This propulsive adventure takes readers on a first hunt in the American wilderness—and face to face with the choice to kill or not to kill.
Twelve-year-old Hunter Higgins has been dreaming about his first hunting trip for as long as he can remember. He’s taken the classes, earned his license, and become one of the best marksmen in his family. Now he’s old enough to join his father, grandfather, and uncle at their cabin for the first weekend of hunting season.
There’s only one problem: Hunter isn’t sure he can kill an animal. To make things more complicated, when they arrive at the cabin, his cousin Yumi is there with her friend Annette, who Hunter secretly has a crush on. Anxious about the hunt and the humiliation of possibly failing, Hunter grapples with what it means to have the power of life and death in his hands, and must decide what role he wishes to play in his relationship to nature and to wildlife.
In the small town of McCall, Idaho, Hunter Higgins, 12, has spent years preparing for "the weekend of his first-ever hunt," a coming-of-age ceremony in his white family. Now that he's completed gun safety training, Hunter finally gets to join his lawyer father, construction worker grandfather, and Uncle Rick, an Army National Guard member who served in Afghanistan 10 years ago and whose PTSD-like symptoms threaten to estrange him from his wife and daughter on the last hunt of the season. There's just one problem: though Hunter desperately wants to bag his first buck to prove himself, he feels deep uncertainty over killing an animal. His plans are upset when Yumi, Uncle Rick's half-Japanese, half-white daughter and Hunter's best friend and classmate, and her bespectacled friend Annette Willard, Hunter's secret crush, show up at the family lodge to join the hunt, shifting the hunters' all-male dynamic. Vividly realistic passages about shooting and hunting enrich the narrative, while explorations of toxic masculine attitudes in hunting culture, fear of failure, and trauma underscore the steady action. Though a slightly contrived final act and overly neat ending muddle the thematic impact, intertwining Hunter's growth with his uncle's narrative makes for an emotionally satisfying read. Ages 9 12.)\n