'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 10 September 2021

Review: Pax Journey Home

An extraordinary and emotional tale of survival of both animals and humans,
I regret having missed the first book, Pax, as I loved Pax: Journey Home, so much!

Its beautiful and moving poetic prose carries countless underlying themes and messages that will move the reader deeply.

Several parallel stories are in play throughout the book: Peter's story, the journey to repair the environment, several sub-stories, and that of Pax. 

Pax and his family have a voice. This allows us access to the strong feelings and thoughts of the animals, and fully understand the bond between humans and animals.

The main character is thirteen year old Peter. Bitter and turned inside himself after the loss of both parents, first his mother, then his father in the war, his grief magnified after having being forced to give up his pet fox Pax, whom he saved as a kit.

Pax now has a family of three, one a girl kit. Pax often thinks of his boy with whom he shared his life, and who then sent him away.

Vola with whom Peter now lives, wants to save him from becoming embittered by life and therefore miss out on all the treasure and security love can offer. His grandfather, Peter’s last living relative, bitter and distrustful of everyone and everything, is unable to show any kindness or understanding toward the boy.

To shut people and love out, Peter builds a small hut on his father’s property to live in alone and be self-sufficient. He decides to join the Water Warriors, that analyse and repair waterways that were poisoned during the war, in the hope of restoring safety to the remaining creatures of the forests that have been significantly diminished.

Jade and Samuel are Peter's adult companions on the hike to rivers and streams, and the testing and documenting of the results. The boy is slowly drawn into the work which he does well.

Knowing a great deal about trees, nature and survival skills, the adults are impressed by his abilities. He begins to warm to them, ever cautious to keep a distance between them. Fearful he will get close again to something or somebody, he withdraws from any warmth or emotion that threatens.

But love has a way of creeping in.

When Pax sets out on a journey with his girl kit to teach her how to survive and recognise danger, she becomes sick after drinking the water.

There is only one thing to be done.

Can Peter repeat the thing that broke him? Or will love win him over regardless of the barriers he has carefully built around himself.

Jon Klassen’s black and white illustration reflect the ever-present threat to the animals in the forest, and the aloneness of the boy, in haunting, breathtaking shadows.

A beautifully constructed and executed storyline that explores human emotions; how all living things need and depend on one another to survive. Regardless of the way life wounds them, they can always be healed through love.

Title: Pax: Journey Home
Author: Sara Pennypacker
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Harper Collins, $14.99
Publication Date: 7 September 2021
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780008470289
For ages: 9+
Type: Junior Fiction