Escape from the Everglades

Focus On the Family. Jul. 2021. 464p. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781646070268.
Gr 9 Up–Fourteen-year-old Parker and his best friend Angelica (Jelly) recently moved to the island town of Chokoloskee, where their park ranger dads patrol the Everglades National Park. The adventure begins when Parker, Jelly, and their friend Wilson decide to enter the Everglades on an airboat to set up a game camera for Jelly. Parker instantly has a sense of foreboding. When a giant gator approaches after Wilson throws it bread, all Parker can think about is what his dad would say. He is ready to head back to shore, but Wilson and Jelly want photos and videos. They get them, at the expense of Parker’s arm. The pace of the story quickens as Parker’s life begins to fade, but God has other plans for him. Even so, Parker is ready to escape this place and his father applies for a transfer, but not before Parker’s friends convince him he must reenter the Everglades to overcome his fears. As Parker comes to terms with his new normal, Maria, Jelly’s 17-year-old sister, struggles with issues of her own. Her mother has abandoned the family and Maria has taken up with Clayton, the principal’s son and the town bully. The dual story line is woven together to create a tale focusing on integrity, abusive relationships, and trusting God. The creepiness of the Everglades will stay with readers. Parker and Jelly are coded as white and Wilson is described as half Miccosukee Indian.
VERDICT Recommended for Christian fiction fans with a flair for drama and adventure and readers who are willing to accept that not all stories have a perfectly happy ending.

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