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The Bear by Andrew Krivak, reviewed by Casey Dorman

A Forthcoming Classic

The Bear by Andrew Krivak

Reviewed by Casey Dorman



Lyrical and visionary, The Bear combines elements of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. A young girl and her father are the last remaining humans in a post-apocalyptic world, in which nature is abundant in the form of animals and vegetation. The girl’s father teaches her to make a bow to hunt and to make clothing and food. He tells her stories about her dead mother and about the animals. He teaches her to hunt. Together they visit the top of the mountain shaped like a bear and he shows her the grave of her mother and explains why he made it the way he did. They head for the ocean to gather salt, but the father is bitten by a strange creature and dies. The girl begins to mourn and stops caring for herself, but a bear appears and talks to her, guiding her. They begin a journey back to her home, the bear and the girl conversing along the way. When he hibernates, she tries to leave but almost dies until she is saved by a mountain lion, who also talks to her and an eagle who does the same. 

This is a magical story, but the author’s descriptions of nature and the simple tasks that the father and daughter do to keep their isolated life going are captivating. There is an inspirational appreciation of nature and of its creatures at the center of the story. The reader is transported by the tale and the words used to tell it, despite no explanation for the demise of the rest of humanity or the anthropomorphic abilities of the animals, and even the plants. It is difficult not to fall under the story’s spell and appreciate the wonder of nature without humans in it.

The Bear is a very unusual story. It’s point is in its telling. The plot is simple and it charms the reader by opening his or her eyes and ears to the natural world around us. Its only lesson may be that humans are not at the center of that world. 

I think The Bear will become a classic and provide much joy as it is discovered and rediscovered by readers of all ages.

The Bear will be released by Bellevue Literary Press on February 11, 2020

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