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Jungle Crossing by Sydney Salter

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Have you ever been to a place you haven’t wanted to be, but your parents dragged you along anyway? Have you ever been to a place that is way outside your comfort zone? Have you ever been in a place where all you want to do is go curl up and hide? This is what it's like for Kat when her parents announce that they are taking a family vacation to Mexico. She is convinced that her mom, dad and sister will all drive her crazy, not to mention that going to Mexico will present millions of dangers. However, crocodile bites, sunburn, kidnapping, heat stroke, robbery, and flash floods are the least of her worries.

Going to Mexico would mean missing the annual “mini camp.” Each year, her friend Fiona picks five girls to come to her house for a week of gossiping, shopping, makeovers, movie watching, and scrapbook making. Being invited to mini camp insured you one more year of popularity. Missing mini camp meant that you’re in for a whole year on the outside of all the inside jokes, a year of shame, a year of embarrassment. Kat could not let this happen to her. During her trip, she vowed to make sure that they didn’t forget her, reminding them of her existence with postcards every other day. She couldn’t let 8th grade be the worst year of her life.

But as Kat travels around the Yucatán peninsula with her Mayan guide, she learns several important lessons. As she listens to the myth about the Mayan girl Muluc, she relates it to her own life. She realizes her life and Muluc’s are reflections of each other. She learns that sometimes you need to go live in another culture to truly understand your own, and maybe some things she once thought mattered don’t at all.

I can really relate to Jungle Crossing because just this past summer I myself travelled to Guatemala (a small country just south of Mexico). There I interacted with many native people and was forced into some situations that I was not fully comfortable with. I learned that even if you have hardly anything, you can still be happy. I learned how to take nothing for granted and to take full advantage of my opportunities. I also learned that even though we live in different countries and different cultures, we are more alike that we think and we each have something to teach each other. Going there has affected my priorities, just like going to Mexico did for Kat.

Jungle Crossing is a quick read that should take you no more than a week and probably a lot less. It is very well written, although a couple of characters say almost the exact same thing many times throughout the book. If you have been to a third-world country, you will really know what Kat is going through and you will love this book. However, anyone ages 11 through 16 who likes to read realistic fiction should find this book intriguing.




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