Obsessed. That is the easiest way to describe my feelings toward Navigating Early. It's one of the last Newbery potential books I picked up before the Newbery Award selection by the ALA committee. Clare Vanderpool won the Newbery award for her debut novel Moon Over Manifest two years ago, and after finishing this one, I can't wait to get my hands on that one. I wanted to devour this in one reading, yet also wanted to savor it. I only held out 24 hours total. So amazing.
The story follows Jack who is uprooted from Kansas to attend boarding school in Maine. He meets Early, an odd classmate obsessed with pi. As their relationship develops, Jack learns that Early is able to see things in numbers that other people can't, and reveals that the digits in pi are actually a story of Pi's life. They embark on an adventure and find their route similar to Pi's experiences.
I would not be surprised if this title walks away with the Newbery Award for 2014, it is my pick hands down.
My rating: 5 stars
Summary from goodreads:
At the end of World War II, Jack Baker, a landlocked Kansas boy, is suddenly uprooted after his mother’s death and placed in a boy’s boarding school in Maine. There, Jack encounters Early Auden, the strangest of boys, who reads the number pi as a story and collects clippings about the sightings of a great black bear in the nearby mountains.
Newcomer Jack feels lost yet can’t help being drawn to Early, who won’t believe what everyone accepts to be the truth about the Great Appalachian Bear, Timber Rattlesnakes, and the legendary school hero known as The Fish, who never returned from the war. When the boys find themselves unexpectedly alone at school, they embark on a quest on the Appalachian Trail in search of the great black bear.
But what they are searching for is sometimes different from what they find. They will meet truly strange characters, each of whom figures into the pi story Early weaves as they travel, while discovering things they never realized about themselves and others in their lives.