When Jasmine Fuentes finds herself thousands of miles from home, forced to hike around in the wilderness of California with a bunch of juvenile delinquents, she’s convinced she doesn’t belong.
Forage for food, build shelter, make fire—Jasmine sets out to learn what she needs to do to ace the program so she can go home and salvage her summer vacation. But the more she tries to prove she doesn’t need wilderness therapy, the more desperate her situation becomes. Confronted with life and death, she comes face to face with her past and her imperfections. Will Jasmine ask for help before it’s too late?
the author of Eruption as well as several children’s books. When she isn’t
writing, Adrienne enjoys running, hiking, and matchmaking (Are you single? She
probably knows someone perfect for you.)
and four children, who give her love, support, and plenty of good material for
I found High Sierra intriguing. Jasmine’s mother sends her to camp in Yosemite National Park during her summer break. The group hike and learn wilderness skills. At first, Jasmine feels that she doesn’t belong there with a group of troubled teens. After all, she is a straight A student, but gradually her own struggles rise to the surface. I liked that it showed what Jasmine thought and felt as she worked through wilderness challenges, and ultimately had to face her own insecurities. The author did a great job of showing what it’s like to be a teenager. Jasmine’s feelings, thoughts and inner turmoil made me stop and ponder my own challenges. It reminded me what my teen years were like. I highly recommend this book to young men and women who are looking for new perspectives on seemingly impossible problems. Although any age group can benefit too.
When we stopped in front of the Curry Village Pizza Patio, I didn’t want to get off with everyone else. How much community service would I be sentenced to if I hijacked the bus?
“C’mon, guys,” Pizza Face called, “real food.”
It was no use. I had to go. The court had already given me my freebee. A hijacking would definitely go on my permanent record. But standing up wasn’t as easy as you’d think. My legs were shaky, and my pack felt like it was full of boulders.
Because it was, actually.
The chain gang had almost reached a set of stairs on the side of the building when I was just barely stepping off the bus. A sign pointed customers of the Pizza Patio up the stairs. I didn’t think I could eat due to my depressing life, but the smell of fresh bread and Italian seasoning changed my mind.
“The restrooms are down here,” Backwoods Barbie said, looking directly at me. “Why don’t we go wash up? Whoever gets done first can order. What do you guys like? A combo?”
“No mushrooms,” Emphysema said.
“Or olives,” Michaela added.
“Or green peppers,” said Quiet Wolf.
“So just pepperoni?” Abercrombie laughed. “Sounds good. I’ll get us a table.”
We followed Backwoods Barbie inside, dropping our packs next to hers in a narrow hallway outside the restroom. I guess she wasn’t worried someone would steal them. I shrugged. If somebody was stupid enough to want them, they deserved what they got.
I barely recognized myself in the tiny bathroom mirror. My face was pretty clean, but dirt covered my bare neck and the front of my shirt. I felt strangely sentimental about the existence of paper towels, as I did the best I could to clean myself off. And running water. How could I have taken it for granted? It was so beautiful.
Michaela and Emphysema went to join the boys upstairs before I was finished, but Backwoods Barbie stayed behind with me.
“Can you believe you’ve hiked over fourteen miles in the last three days?” she asked. “Doesn’t it feel amazing?”
I glared at her out of the corner of my eyes. Was she saying that because she thought I’d never done anything physically hard before? Okay, maybe I hadn’t hiked like this, but it wasn’t like I’d just been sitting at home on the couch.
“How are you feeling?” she asked when I didn’t respond to her first stab at conversation. “You’ve been so quiet all afternoon.”
“I don’t have anything to say,” I told her. The paper towel I’d been using to scrub fell apart, so I took another from the dispenser.
“You’ve had a tough day,” she said, “but I’m impressed. You never complain, and you really pushed through, even after you fell.”
I stopped scrubbing at the dirt on my arm.
Glad you brought that up. Just in case I’d forgotten. I blew out a breath and started scrubbing again. Couldn’t she just go away and leave me alone?
“You’re the only one who decided to carry your rocks all the way down, you know.” she continued.
So we were going to talk about the rocks. Now I understood. She wanted to know why I hadn’t given them away.
“Firewalker said we could give them to him whenever we wanted…” I shut the sink off. “I didn’t want to.”
“Fair enough,” she said, smoothing her ponytail. “I just wonder why anyone would want to carry around extra weight when it’s so easy to give it up.”
Why couldn’t she just leave me alone? I knew what she was thinking. She was thinking I was too self-righteous to admit I had problems. Wadding up the paper towel, I threw it in the trash with a vengeance.
“Carrying extra weight is what I do.” I charged past her, through the door. “Skinny people rarely understand.” Slamming my hands against the door, I stormed out. But the door didn’t swing closed behind me as I’d expected.
“Jasmine,” Backwoods Barbie called, following me into the hallway, “wait.”
Ignoring her, I pushed open the glass door.
“You’re forgetting something,” she said.
Forgetting what? Was she going to pass on some annoying Miwok wisdom? Or maybe she wanted to apologize for being skinny. I didn’t really care.
This day just needs to be over. I continued on up the stairs without looking back.
Customers stood in line under the green and white striped awning, waiting to order at the window. Others sat at hexagon shaped picnic tables with green umbrellas. My group took up two tables in a corner near a tall tree. Its branches pushed over the railing, encroaching on the umbrella’s space.
“Where’s Monica?” Pizza Face asked, before I even sat down.
I shrugged and sat at the other table, next to Noah.
“Look at that,” Quiet Wolf said, nodding toward a family that was just pulling apart a large Hawaiian. My mouth began to water as soon as I saw the stringy cheese. The sight and smell of it temporarily erased my disgruntled attitude toward life while the primeval desire to eat real food consumed me.
“How long until ours will be ready?” I asked.
“They said fifteen minutes, but that was about ten minutes ago,” Pizza Face answered.
I expected someone to acknowledge Backwoods Barbie when she came up the stairs. She should have been right behind me. What was taking her so long?
I was starting to get nervous about what she might be doing. Did it have something to do with me? My question was answered all too soon.
“Monica?” Michaela stood up and looked from the stairs to me and back again. Everyone else stood too, except Noah. We both turned around to look at the same time.
Backwoods Barbie trudged up the stairs sandwiched between two packs—hers slung over her shoulders and mine in front with her arms wrapped around it like a jumbo paper grocery bag. Abercrombie rushed over to meet her, taking my pack. Everyone else turned their stink eyes on me. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.
In the Midst of Winter shares ways to cope for those suffering from misunderstood chronic illnesses, and a glimpse into our daily lives for those who wish to understand. It also testifies of the Savior’s ability to reach into each heart and bring hope and renewal.
Top Ten List
10 of my favorite books
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Charlie’s Monument by Blaine M. Yorgason
- Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales
- The Black Unicorn by Terry Brooks
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
- The scriptures
- The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
- The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
- Lighten Up by Chieko Okazaki
- Willpower Is Not Enough by A. Dean Byrd and Mark D. Chamberlain
Poem from the introduction to my book
By Danice Hope
“Why did I get this illness?” I asked.
When Esther long ago was faced with a choice:
Should she endanger her own life
to ask the king to save her people?
Said Mordecai to her, “and who knoweth
whether thou art come to the kingdom
for such a time as this?”
“But it’s not fair,
it’s not what I planned for my life,” I moaned.
Said Lao-tse, a wise Chinese man,
“The world was not a setter of traps
but a teacher of valuable lessons.”
“But what can I learn from this?
I can’t even clean my home.
It’s a struggle to get up each day,” I cried.
“Bloom where you’re planted,”
said the wise woman.
“But I feel so alone,
No one understands me,” I said.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace give I unto you …
Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid,” said Jesus.
“If you will walk with me,
I will try to learn,” I humbly said.
“I see that what matters
is what you do with what you’ve got.”