{Bookish Review} Pax by Sara Pennypacker

By: Sara Pennypacker
Published on: February 2nd 2016 by HarperCollins
Genres: Middle Grade
Source: Library

Pax was only a kit when his family was killed, and “his boy” Peter rescued him from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandpa. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter listens to his stern father—as he usually does—and throws Pax’s favorite toy soldier into the woods. When the fox runs to retrieve it, Peter and his dad get back in the car and leave him there—alone. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he packs for a trek to get his best friend back and sneaks into the night. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their independent struggles to return to one another against all odds.

Told from the alternating viewpoints of Peter and Pax, this story truly showcases Sara’s mastery of characterization and her fluent ability to pay off small yet beautiful details. The conflicts that Peter faces are mostly internal and center around the anger that has affected both him and his father in the wake of his mother’s unexpected death. Peter can’t shake his grandfather’s claim that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” when he wants so badly to distinguish himself from his closed-off father. Pax’s hardships, on the other hand, are more external; his domestication has left him an unskilled hunter and misled him as to the true nature of men. However, it is the beautifully-crafted characters that Peter and Pax encounter on their separate journeys who ultimately help the protagonists find what they are looking for, in addition to each other. These distinctive and multi-dimensional individuals leave a rare kind of impression on the reader while subtly infusing it with themes of loyalty, self-worth, denial, and truth.
This book really breaks my heart. This story is told from dual POVs--Peter and his pet fox, Pax. Peter was forced to abandon Pax when his father enlists in the war. Peter was then sent to his grandfather's place, where he made the decision to head back to look for Pax against all odds.

Pax believed that Peter will come back for him and waited. However, things were not so smooth for the fox. He needed food and water and there were dangers all around him.

This story about loyalty and friendship touched me. However, for a middle grade fiction, there were mentions of animals being killed and a scene where a landmine detonated. It won't be pleasant for the young ones to be reading these. This story also touches on the element of strength and resilience, when Peter was injured but still determined to find Pax despite his injuries.

Pax is an emotional read about the strong friendship between Peter and Pax and the adventure they had while trying to find each other. I'd advise parental guidance when it comes to reading this book with the younger ones due to the themes of war and death.