365 Days to Alaska

365 Days to Alaska cover
365 Days to Alaska by Cathy Carr

By Cathy Carr
Amulet / Abrams, 2021
272 pages

Ages 9-12

Rigel, 11, who is white, lives with her family in the Alaskan bush. But when her parents announce they’re getting divorced, Rigel and her sisters move with their mom to “Outside”–their maternal grandmother’s in Connecticut. For Rigel, leaving is bearable only because her dad has promised she can return to live with him in a year—but keep it a secret for now, he cautions. Connecticut is almost otherworldly to Rigel: people and concrete everywhere, so many cars whizzing by. And then there’s school, with social norms she doesn’t understand. Previously homeschooled Rigel isn’t comfortable interacting with other kids in sixth grade, but does secretly befriend an injured crow she finds behind the school, despite knowing she shouldn’t feed a wild animal. There is such a satisfying arc to this novel and its deftly handled subplots, from Rigel’s gradual acclimation to Connecticut, including a slowly developing friendship with a few other kids, to her older sister Willow’s changing feelings about having a boyfriend (initially thrilled and then slowly getting tired of his needy and controlling ways) to the crow’s fate. Wonderful secondary characters include their unflappable grandmother, their capable mom, and their not-so-reliable dad, whose calls become less frequent leaving Rigel wondering about the plan for her to move back. It’s no surprise that there isn’t a plan—something he eventually acknowledges and begins to make amends for. By then, although Rigel misses Alaska, Connecticut is feeling like home. ©2021 Cooperative Children’s Book Center