What better to captivate teens than a story with dangerous river rafting
without a guide? Downriver is a wild, exhilarating and touching
ride with elements of adventure, coming of age and survival. Student
readers should find themselves captivated by the suspense and danger,
and remain committed to the story right to the last page.
Fifteen-year-old Jessie is sent by her father to a wilderness experience
for troubled teens. Jessie has experienced problems at home mainly due
to an impending move to a new house with a new stepmother. With her
on the wilderness trip is an assorted set of misfit teens, such as Star,
the superstitious and ethereal girl, Freddy, the contemplative Hopi,
Troy, the charismatic leader, and Pug, the congenial muscle head, among
others. The renegade teens on the trek wind up stealing rafting gear
and taking off down the Grand Canyon, leaving their guide behind.
They encounter significant danger and interpersonal problems along
the way, as well as friendship and growth. The teens make hard choices
about just how far they are willing to follow someone down the path
of rebellion. Jessie learns many things about people and about herself,
including that growth can occur through adversity, friendships can make
the difference, and following the charismatic leader is often the poorest
Downriver was chosen as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and
as one of the ALA's 100 Best of the Best Books of the past 25 years.
Winner of the California Young Reader Medal, it was an American Bookseller
Pick of the Lists. The events were inspired by the author's own river
Topical connections include responsibility, trust, survival, courage,
Native Americans, and the Grand Canyon.
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