Stranded is a book about Janey Pendergast and her great grandmother Janette Riker. It is the year 1917, and Janey’s father just died. Because of this, she and her mom go to live with her great grandmother, Janette. Janey doesn’t like her very much because all Janette does is lay in bed since she is so old. One day, Janey is left to watch her great grandma while her mom goes out. They sit fairly quietly in the room for a while, until Janette asks Janey to do her a favor. “I want you to go up to the attic and bring me back the bundle wrapped in colorful beads locked in a chest.”
Janey reluctantly goes to retrieve it, but when she finds it, she stops. Deciding to spite her great grandmother, she unwraps the bundle and finds a diary. She sits down to read the diary and finds within it the tale of her grandma’s youth. Janey becomes immersed in Janette’s challenges, ranging from bitter cold, to staring down bears, to beating wolves while she fights to survive the harsh trip to Oregon. When she finally brings the diary to her great grandmother, something in her has changed.
I usually don’t like journal formats, but this book really surprised me. I found myself rooting for Janette every step of the way. The characters that the author, Matthew P. Mayo, created felt real in every way, from their interactions with one another to how they acted by themselves. I also really loved seeing how Janette overcame the variety of difficulties she faced.
The book had nice flow; it didn’t seem to get caught at a point and just lose its momentum, and the themes of family and survival could be found throughout this novel. I would recommend this book to ages 11 and up for some mild language and some bloodier scenes where Janette butchers animals.