Review: Dreaming the Bear

cover-dreaming the bearTitle: Dreaming the Bear
Author: Mimi Thebo
Series: – –
Genre: Teen/MG Fiction
Length: Short novel
Available: Now

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“When I get up, there’s nobody home. Even Mum has gone out. The note says, ‘I have to check my emails. I’ll snowmobile to the meltline and be back soon. XX Mummy’.
And I think, ‘Good. I can feed my bear…'”

Darcy’s life was never exactly simple, but it was about to become a lot more complicated.
Recovering from a distressing illness in her parents’ cabin surrounded by looming pine trees, Darcy spends most of her days alone, warming herself by the log fire. That is, until she ventures into the woods hours before a heavy snowstorm, and finds herself face-to-face with a grizzly bear. Their encounter takes a surprising turn when it flourishes into a warm and caring companionship.

Set against the beautiful backdrop of the snowy Yellowstone National Park in Montana, Mimi Thebo’s poetic tale inspires compassion and friendship, sensitively focusing on how the seemingly impossible can become the achievable.


Source: ARC from Oxford University Press via Amazon Vine

Darcy has gone through big changes in her life – moving to a whole new country, living in the wilderness where she can’t even phone her friends let alone email, catching and coping with pneumonia – so it’s understandable that she’s miserable. She’s not an outdoors kind of girl. She likes fashion and shopping and living in London, life in the Yellowstone National Park could not be more different.

I really felt for Darcy, the way her illness effects everything about her, the lack of sympathy from her father, her lack of time with her constantly-busy mother, trying to cope with over-achieving brother. She’s lost in almost every way, which is why her connection with the bear is so strong. It’s the one thing that connects her to the new world she’s living in, and I loved how it helped bridge the old Darcy with a possible new one.

Not that everything with the bear is straightforward. I really appreciated that about this book. As wonderful as the bond between Darcy and the bear is, there are problems with behaving like this with a wild animal, especially an injured one roaming an area where it may come into contact with other humans. This book never shies away from these issues, so while at first it seems a bit too perfect and sweet, young animal lovers be warned – this is not a sentimental book and there are upsetting scenes and themes throughout.

I also liked how things between Darcy, her brother and her father are explored throughout. It would have been easy to have just had a father who didn’t understand her and a brother too busy enjoying his own life to notice what Darcy’s up to, but a snow storm and a series of other events give all the characters time to interact. Nothing is straightforward in this book and I liked the various layers to each part – although that might not appeal to younger readers. I’d definitely put this book in the teen/middle grade category (11+).

On the whole, this is an interesting read, mixing more familiar issues of family troubles, isolation, illness and misunderstandings with the natural world and helping the bear. It’s thoughtful, emotional and beautifully written. Perfect for animal-loving readers who aren’t afraid to face the realities of caring for wild animals.


Dreaming the Bear is Out Now!
Visit Mimi Thebo for more details.

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