Book Review | The Bear

I finally picked up this book after hearing so much about it over the past couple of weeks and I’m glad I did. It was a riveting read and I appreciate the style of writing, even though it tested me a few times.

The Bear is told from 5 (almost 6!) year old Anna’s perspective. Her family had been camping at Algonquin Park when a bear attacked their campsite and the story follows her and her brother as they deal with the aftermath.

I found myself feeling frustrated during parts of the book. I felt, at times, that the story wasn’t moving quickly enough and Anna often went on tangents when describing her situation and feelings. However, after thinking about it more it made sense – Anna is five. Of course she’s going to be a little disorganized and scattered. She’s also dealing with a very unique and difficult situation, so even though the narrative bothered me at times, I knew that it was well done. Wouldn’t you get a little bit frustrated if you had to listen to a five year-old tell a story for over 10 hours? For that, I applaud Claire Cameron for writing a voice that so closely mirrors a real child’s and do not fault her for the occasional frustration I felt when reading The Bear. Another part of Anna’s narrative that felt really poignant was her habit of counting family members. When she’s with her family, she thinks “We are four.” When she gets separated from the group she says “I am one.” I’m not sure if every child does this but I definitely identified with that; I had the same habit as a child and I had forgotten about it until reading this book.

The last thing I want to comment on is the book’s ending. I won’t spoil anything but I will say that it is one of the best endings I’ve read in a while. It moved me in ways I didn’t expect and it tied the book together perfectly.ย Hats off to Cameron!

Verdict: A very strong book with really effective and spot-on narrative. Great ending.
Read if: You enjoy reading books that experiment with child narrators, a good adventure story, and/or stories based on real life events.

15 thoughts on “Book Review | The Bear

  1. 5eyedbookworm says:

    A book I’ve read recently that had a child narrator was “Stay Where You Are And Then Leave” by John Boyne and I enjoyed it a lot. Having a child narrator gives us a different perspective of things when done right. I think it takes a lot of skills to see events in the eyes of the child, so as per review, I think the author has done a great job with it. This is one of the books I’ve been wanting to read since it was released. I just need to conquer the rest of the books on my list before I end up reading this one ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • kmn04books says:

      Haha I totally get the “I need to get through my TBR pile before I can read this” mentality! My TBR is soooo long and I already have so many books I want to add to it! I definitely think The Bear is worth a read though, if not for the story than for the way Claire Cameron experimented with using a younger voice. I thought it was well done! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. ebookclassics says:

    Great review! I was a bit critical of the narration of this book because I also found it slow and frustrating. I realized it might helpful to read a book like Room by Emma Donoghue (which also has a 5-year old narrator) or Stay Where You Are And Then Leave to compare other books that used this format.

    • kmn04books says:

      I read Donoghue’s Room but for some reason the narration didn’t bother me as much. I’m not sure why. I feel like maybe Jack uses shorter sentences? I haven’t read Stay Where You Are and Then Leave though… maybe I should check it out!

  3. LR says:

    I think you nailed it when you wrote “A very strong book with really effective and spot-on narrative” – I’m so glad to hear you loved this book!

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