Every winter, John Borne looked forward to the days when he and his grandfather headed into the snowy Minnesota woods to hunt together. John admired the reverent, familiar way the old man had with the woods. But this year his grandfather is dying and 13-year-old John must make the hunt alone. Without his beloved grandfather, the hunt is cold and lonely—until John spots the doe watching and waiting for him in the clearing. She is an easy target, but as John raises his rifle to shoot, he knows he cannot kill the vulnerable creature. There is something strangely familiar about this doe, something that John recognizes in her eyes that stops him. Vivid and reflective, Newbery Honor-winner Gary Paulsen’s tale of a boy coming to terms with death displays the wholesome optimism and the adventurous spirit that makes his books so popular.
What made the experience of listening to Tracker the most enjoyable?
By now the genuinely authoritative voice of Frank Muller has come to represent for me the finest in what audiobooks can do for the listener. This story is true, as the author says in the epilogue, but he has turned it into a novella, which is just a great format, IMHO. There are two interweaving plots. One is the cancer which is slowly killing Clay, the grandfather of John, the young narrator. The "main" plot concerns John's hunt for a deer, which turns into a musing on life and death that is unique and could only be told by a hunter who is stalking his quarry, not as a trophy, but for meat, which his family needs to eat in the preposterously cold winters of northern Minnesota. I won't spoil the end of the plot for you, but will just say that it is worth what comes before it. This is truly a magnificent pairing of a wonderful writer and the greatest of all narrators. Please enjoy yourselves. I can't imagine anyone not having a great time here.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Tracker?
The entire "walking down" of the doe is not just a moment, but is probably the last third of the book. However, the (12-year-old) man is trailing the deer in a way that is careful and knowing, so that he can wear the deer out and finally get the deer to the point at which it simply falls. There is one moment in which the two stare at each other from close distance for about two full seconds, which seems like hours to John, and he does not fire his rifle, which is on his shoulder, with his finger on the trigger. What, he asks, is going on here?
What about Frank Muller’s performance did you like?
Every single thing. Frank knew everything there was to know about pace, tone, emotional valence of independent voices both male and female, what people of all ages sound like, and so forth. He was such an artist that his death was an unforgivable loss to the world of audiobooks and drama in general. While I listened to this I thought about the role of death in my own life. No other reader could ease me onto that track so gently and yet so firmly. This guy was soooo good.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
I am not good at this kind of thing. however, here goes: Life meets Death in Minnesota.
Any additional comments?
Nope. I'm good.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
Like most of Gary Paulsen's books, this is directed towards young boys. I read a lot of Paulsen's books when I was teaching literature at a junior high school several years ago. I find them fun to read. Recently I bought a bunch of them for my grandson and decided to read them along with him. If you have young boys, probably about 11 to 16, who need good books that will hold their interest, I recommend this author.
About the narrator. Frank Muller is about as good as it gets. It breaks my heart that he was taken from us long before he read half the books I wanted him to read. Grateful for what he did, though.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful