Navigating Early: Book Review

Another book review, whoop!

This…. actually has a really complicated plot, so it’s a little hard to review in depth while avoiding spoilers? But hopefully you guys can get a good idea of it even through the vagueness, because I’d hate to spoil it for you. 😛

Here we go!


Navigating Early: Book Review





At the end of World War II, Jack Baker, a landlocked Kansas boy, is suddenly uprooted after his mother’s death and placed in a boy’s boarding school in Maine. There, Jack encounters Early Auden, the strangest of boys, who reads the number pi as a story and collects clippings about the sightings of a great black bear in the nearby mountains.

Newcomer Jack feels lost yet can’t help being drawn to Early, who won’t believe what everyone accepts to be the truth about the Great Appalachian Bear, Timber Rattlesnakes, and the legendary school hero known as The Fish, who never returned from the war. When the boys find themselves unexpectedly alone at school, they embark on a quest on the Appalachian Trail in search of the great black bear.

But what they are searching for is sometimes different from what they find. They will meet truly strange characters, each of whom figures into the pi story Early weaves as they travel, while discovering things they never realized about themselves and others in their lives.


The Good Stuff:


  • Descriptions

The writing style in this book was absolutely beautiful. The setting and time period are extremely distinct in themselves and I just loved the feel that got captured in the story. ❤


Maine seaside and forest/military boarding school in WWII? Count me in please.


(Also the Captain America references made me happy.)


  • Autism

I know with all the “write diversity!” stuff, it’s becoming more common to see disabilities and stuff in fiction, but this was my first time seeing autism in a book and it was really well written and interesting to read.


Early and his smallness and jellybean sorting and odd way of organizing his life. It was very creative. –nod-


  • Exciting

I will say it takes a bit to pick up, but this book does fall into the category of those that kept me up late at night reading because it was too exciting to put down. Really steady momentum build on Early and Jack’s expedition. (Pirates and wilderness and bears, oh my . . .)


  • Parallels

There were sort of the two stories going on, with Jack and Early’s main story, then Early telling the story of Pi. And it’s not as obvious at first, but man . . . once it gets going, the similarities between the two stories are fascinating. O.o


  • Theme

Wow, I’m just getting on a streak of finding some thematically cool things, aren’t I? But yeah, this book had one of the best uses of symbolism and metaphors I’ve seen without getting preachy. Beautiful themes of grief and your relations with other people and it was . . . yeah, it was awesome. ❤


  • Tie-ins

Quite possibly my favorite part was just how much of the small details from earlier in the story were brought back in the end. Seriously, nothing is forgotten or put to waste, WHICH WAS REALLY SURPRISING BECAUSE THIS STORY WAS ALL OVER THE PLACE.


No spoilers, but I was grinning my face off at the ending. (I mean, not all the tie-offs were happy, but the happy ones stuck with me. <3)


The Bad Stuff:


  • Confusing at first

Getting into the flow of this story was a little bit . . . awkward? You’ve got three stories going on right at the beginning and it’s sort of switching them all out. You’ve got Jack at the boarding school, then Jack’s flashbacks to his home, then Early and his Pi story and it gets a tad bit confuzzling.


  • Relating to MC

Totally personal preference here, but this was frustrating to me. You’ve got Jack, who’s admittedly sad that his mother died and having a hard time relating to his father.


But . . . dude, he just got dropped in a spot that would be an absolute dream come true for me. Right on the rocky coastline of Maine with pine forests all around and he gets to go sailing all the time and live right next to the ocean.


Just that setting . . . I’m just “TAKE ME WITH YOU TO PARADISE”


And Jack’s moping around and going “ugh, take me back to flat Kansas.”


It got easier to relate to him later in the book, but the beginning I just wanted to smack him over the head and make him appreciate the place he was in.


But again, this is me, who’s probably too fond of oceans and sailing and pine trees. So I have a hard time relating to people who don’t love those things.


Probably not a problem of the general public.



A really artistic and well written YA book with a slightly confusing beginning, but definitely push through for the end. 😉


So, have you read Navigating Early? Think you will? What books have you read recently?

Happy Wednesday, folks! (see you tomorrow with Blank Mastermind things -swooshes off-)


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