The End of the Wild by Nicole Helget is a fictional, 4-6th grade middle school book on edible plants, fracking and family struggles.
Eleven-year-old Fern, lives with her stepfather and her two brothers in a small, rundown house, on the edge of a poor town. Near their home is a grove of woods, where she and her family hunts and forages for food. The woods are Fern’s life and she often goes their when things get tough–empty pantries, past due notices, letters from lawyers and child services.
When a fracking company moves into town, Fern finds out that they want to cut down her woods and put in a wastewater pond. Fern is devastated but also conflicted because the company will bring jobs to her neighborhood and could help keep her family together.
Fern is determined to save the woods but she also wants to keep her family together. What can she do when being tugged in two very different directions.
I decided to try this book for my STEM book club and I think it is going to be a good choice. The End of the Wild can help start a conversation on fracking, what it is and the controversies currently revolving around it.
I don’t know of anyone who will actually go out and actually make the recipes in this book, but they were need to see and added a neat creative element to the book. I liked that Fern was taught to provide for her family and you can definitely see how, even though she had to grow up quick, she is still just a kid.
A warning that I will be giving my book club kids, there is a dog who gets hurt in the book. This happens on page 150-158 in the hard cover version of the book, and does include somewhat of a graphic description. **SPOILER ALERT** although the dog does die, there is closer and new life springs from the death. **END SPOILER** Normally, I’d shy away from include books with hurt animals but this was handled well, so I think it will be OK.
Overall, this is going to make a great STEM book because not only can we discuss fracking and foraging, we can also talk about environmental sciences in general and other social issues like fostering, poverty and more. Now, I just have to find an “easy” STEM project to go along with it. This one gets 5 stars from me.
That’s all for now!