Author: Sara Pennypacker
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Publish Date: February 2, 2016
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Pax was only a kit when his family was killed, and “his boy” Peter rescued him from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandpa. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter listens to his stern father—as he usually does—and throws Pax’s favorite toy soldier into the woods. When the fox runs to retrieve it, Peter and his dad get back in the car and leave him there—alone. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he packs for a trek to get his best friend back and sneaks into the night. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their independent struggles to return to one another against all odds."
My Two Cents:
"Pax" is the story of a young boy, Peter, and his pet fox, Pax. They live in a world at war and Peter's father is caught up in the middle of it. He tells Peter that he needs to release the fox before he goes to war. Peter does so very grudgingly but quickly realizes that he doesn't think he can live without Pax so he goes on a journey that will force him to grow and change his perspective.
This is a bildungsroman in every sense of the word. Peter has a very different understanding of the world when the book first opens. He is aware of the love he feels for Pax. Pax is aware of the love that Peter feels for him and is confused about why he is put out into the world. Peter's sadness is mostly focused on himself but as he goes through the book, he realizes that there are many things outside of his control that are much bigger than himself.
This book is filled with a lot of messages and I like that the author never seems to talk down to her readers - this is especially important in books geared for middle grade readers. There are the messages about how terrible war is and how devastating it can be. I did find myself wanting to know more about what the war was over but perhaps that was author's message: no matter what the war is about, it is still devastating. And then there is the message about letting something go and if it comes back to you, it's yours. If it doesn't, it was never yours in the first place.
Overall, I enjoyed this book even if the ending was not what I wanted it to be. Things are not always the way we want them to be.