Alternating between After and Before sections, I Am Still Alive follows teenager, Jess, who has moved to Canada to live with her estranged, off-the-grid, father.
Battered, bruised and grieving, Jess has recently survived a car crash in which her mother was killed.
Like losing your mom isn’t hard enough. Like losing the strength in your own body isn’t hard enough. Now Jess has to leave the only life she has ever known behind and move to the wilderness to live with a virtual stranger.
Y’all, you can tell from the very start that this story is going to take you places. Those places aren’t going to be great, but what is great is the writing, pacing and format of this YA Survival Thriller.
After a shocking event, which is revealed slowly over the course of the story, Jess ends up alone.
The cabin where she had been living burned to the ground, leaving her, her dog Bo and a few meager supplies to try to survive on their own.
Jess is still in a lot of pain from her accident. Her muscles have atrophied in one leg fairly severely; as in, she was in therapy training herself to walk again prior to moving to the wilderness.
Because of this, even small tasks are literally exhausting for her. Her physical limitations present mental challenges as well. She truly must learn to listen to her body in order to push through.
This is a true survival story. Marshall does not shy away from pain, hunger, thirst, desperation and anguish. It is all on page and at times is agonizing to read.
There’s also some fairly painful issues involving family, guilt and grief. All handled extraordinarily well.
Reminiscent of Hatchet, the first survival story I ever loved, I really enjoyed reading this. I really enjoyed reading it, even though it tore my heart out and I legit cried like a baby at the end.
This is not a comfortable read, but it’s definitely a challenging, thought-provoking, adventurous read; not for the faint of heart.
I will absolutely be reading more from this author!