Debut novelist Gebhart reveals an uncanny knack for getting inside the brain of a teenage boy wrestling with changing relationships and an onslaught of disappointments. … Fully developed characters, complex and realistic relationships (especially between Tyson and Gramps), and Tyson’s spot-on narrative voice—which balances faux bravado, risqué humor, and real emotional pain—make this story stand out.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Tyson is quirky, awkward and lovable; a perfect middle school boy. He is also, at times, laugh-out-loud funny, but his best qualities are his fierce love for his family and his unwavering desire to be true to himself. … Occasionally salty vocabulary and adolescent innuendo are developmentally spot-on. A quirky, sweet adventure for middle school boys.
Gebhart’s debut depicts the anger and emotion of adolescence without the angst; Tyson remains a likable oddball throughout. Unapologetic in his love of bears, Taylor Swift, and having his grandpa as his BFF, Tyson’s eccentricities serve both as strengths and challenges as he matures. What results is a compelling and heartfelt story with just the right amount of humor. This should appeal to fans of Jordan Sonnenblick and to middle-school boys in general. And don’t worry, there will, in fact, be bears.
Gebhart crafts a satisfyingly complicated realistic drama that deals with big issues. … Tyson is a likable protagonist in a well-paced tale that will hold young readers in its grip.
—The Horn Book
Tyson eventually manages a thrilling and satisfying hunting excursion. In the end, this adventure story perfectly illustrates the complexity, awkwardness, and uncertainty of transitioning between childhood and young-adulthood.
—Library Media Connection
This charming coming-of-age story offers an elusive balance of humorous and poignant moments. Gebhart’s firsthand experience field dressing elk lends unique and dramatic details to the familiar story of a boy coming to terms with his beloved grandfather’s aging. Tyson is a likable protagonist whose transition from childhood to adulthood will be enjoyed by both boys and girls.
The book is strongly written, and Tyson’s emotional turmoil, which he glibly covers with barbed observations and self-deprecating humor, is painfully real. The gorily precise details of the elk kill and butchering also add compelling dimension to a familiar story of coming to terms with the debility of a beloved grandparent. Family stories and adventure tales are often relegated to separate pigeonholes, and this title offers fresh crossover appeal.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Tyson’s narration lends immediacy to the emotional development… This should be an easy sell to younger middle schoolers, especially where hunting is a popular activity.
—School Library Journal
An engaging … tale of two clean-boweled miscreants who steal away from the forces of authority to go hunting in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. … They emerge two days later, staggered by frights and adventures—and, in Tyson’s case, newly wise about age and aging.
—The Wall Street Journal
Gebhart writes of life transitions with an irreverent and humorous touch that explodes stereotypes of both growing old and being a teen. And yes, there will be bears. Scary, exhilarating, beautiful bears.