If you're an ardent follower of my blog posts, you'd notice that I've found a (not so) new hobby; hiking. The allure of hiking once a week, to admire nature and breath in the fresh air together with new and old friends, leaves me begging for solitude on another day. It is on this day, the pull of my introvert side would call upon a novel to be present. Navigating Early written by Clare Vanderpool is one such novel.
This novel is by actual fact, a children's novel. I was too proud to buy the novel at first. But the synopsis had helped me battle with my ego. The story takes place on the Appalachian Trail attempted by two friends, one of whom is obsessed with the number pi (3.14). The synopsis certainly piqued the hiker and fallen Mathematician in me. Its true what people say, passion can overcome anything.
Jack Baker, 13 years old, had lost his mother at the end of World War II and was sent to a boarding school by his Naval Seal father. There, Jack met with a peculiar boy, Early Auden. Early has a pet frog named Bucky, likes to colour code his jellybeans when upset, and will silently exit any classroom when he disagrees with what's been taught. Early especially disagrees with his Mathematics teacher who thinks that the number pi has an end because Early opines that the number pi does NOT have an end. Early somehow came out with a story using the pi numbers which he only shared with Jack.
Early had an elder brother who died during the war. But Early does not buy that. There's a black bear who is terrorising hikers on the Appalachian trail and Early believes that he'll find his brother when he finds this bear. Jack thinks this as nonsense of course, but seeing that he's alone during school break, Jack might as well join Early on his quest. Besides, Early reminds him of his mother so much.
As a reader, what fascinates me most is how Early sees the world. It's truly outlandish how people see things differently and get judged harshly for that. Anyway, I believe this is what a good novelist should acquire, a SENSE of his/her characters. Early, if you had not guessed yet, is actually a savant and has high functioning form of autism. I give this book 5 stars.
|A page from the book|