Book Review: Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

This is a YA novel of the standard fiction kind. No vampires, no post-apocalyptic story, but a story about a teenage city girl taking a holiday in the countryside.

I got this book from the translator (English to Dutch), Anne Marie Koper, a Twitter friend of mine. I was curious to see how her book had turned out so she sent me a copy for review.

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots: What it is about

Seventeen-year old Jenna is a real American city girl, but very involved with the environment and animal rights. She is part of demonstrations regularly, hangs up posters and is active in other ways to fight for worthy causes. She is a member of the Greens group.

Her plans to do some extra work in the Greens group is cancelled when her parents go travelling and Jenna has to spend the summer with her aunt Susie in Canada. She lives in a very small town.

At first Jenna doesn’t feel at home there at all. Susie is nice enough, but her step-daughter Fiona is a disaster. She has Jenna’s age but doesn’t want to spend a moment longer than necessary in Jennas company. She spends her time on the beach of a lake in the woods with her three (male) friends, and Jenna is not welcomed in the group.

And the environment isn’t exactly a priority in the town! Even worse, Jenna is laughed at for making a case for the environment.

When it turns out Jenna (but not Fiona) is happy to join in a project to make the town more well-known with tourists, she slowly becomes accepted in the group of friends, and in the town in general. She even gets a boyfriend. When her city lifestyle follows her to the town, in the form of a friend’s visit, she realises how black and white her ideals were. By the time she has to go back to town, she doesn’t want to anymore.

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots: What I thought

A really nice book. The story was nice. It was a bit cliché that the stepdaughter Fiona didn’t want anything to do with Jenna, so Jenna had really no one to be friends with. Otherwise the story is believable – how she finds her place in the group of friends, or how nice guys sometimes don’t get into contact for days.

I could imagine how Jenna was feeling and how she felt about boys. The was well written and though out. If you meet a nice boy for the second time, you blush and your hears beats a crazy rhythm. And you don’t know anything sensible to say anymore.

Although I liked the story (but didn’t love it), I noticed that I kept thinking about the book even days later. I didn’t need to know what else happened to Jenna but just wanted to revisit that small town with its woods and lakes. It seemed a nice place to spend some time.

It was odd how few people were mentioned in the book. Yes, it was a small town, but in terms of teenagers, were there really just Fiona and her three friends? That was rather unlikely, but handy for the story, so Jenna had no one else to befriend.

The translation from English to Dutch was good, so I was able to tell my friend I loved the book. Phew!

Rating: 4/5 stars

I got this book: from the translator, Anne Marie Koper, for review

I read this in: Dutch, the original language is English

Number of pages: 288

First published: 2010 (English edition)

Genre: YA fiction


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

5 Responses to Book Review: Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

  1. This sounds very sweet. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Tes says:

    It sounds like a lovely story… I think I can read it with my son 🙂

  3. Cindy says:

    My daughter would enjoy it, I think.

  4. ariana says:

    I loved thise book when i read the oart that revee admits That he love jenna i fell a quizzy felling inside me like if i was jenna

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