By Gary Paulsen
“A learning time. Another thought from the night before, one that must have come while he was sleeping. He had to know more or he wouldn’t make it. He should try to learn each day. It was like Owen had said – he wanted to know everything. David felt that now, felt that he had to know things, know all things, but there wasn’t a way to learn on the boat, not a way to study and gain knowledge. There were no books, no radio. Just me, he thought – just me.” This excerpt from Gary Paulsen’s Voyage of The Frog mirrors a lesson I am learning at this point in my life. As a senior in high school, I am searching for a career path, and I wish someone could point me in a direction. The lesson I am learning is that I will have to rely in myself for making these tough decisions, and for navigating my own life. Finding hope and comfort in self-reliance is the major theme of the novel: The passage above reflects a profound life lesson that a young boy is about to learn…without a book. Young David, who had already lost his father, suddenly loses his beloved uncle and role model, Owen. Uncle Owen wills his boat, The Frog, to young David with a request for him to spread his ashes out to sea. The book follows young David on his journey far out into the ocean, where “no land could be seen.” Paulsen describes his journey in detail, as if we are watching him from above. David encounters several hardships and many challenges on his way to finding some life lessons, and finding himself. David suddenly comes to the realization that he is alone at sea, as I am alone in my decisions. Anyone who has experienced a fear of being alone, and is looking for strength in themselves, might like this book.