In our Heroic Journey literature circle, another book that students enjoy is Devil's Pass, by Sigmund Brouwer. It tells the story of Webb, a teen who is struggling with an abusive stepfather. After leaving home, Webb receives a task from his grandfather's will. He must go to the Northwest Territories and travel with the help of an indigenous guide to uncover secrets from his grandfather's past. At the same time, he must deal with his own secrets and overcome past abuse.
This book has been popular this year. It has an appealing mystery in it, plus the students are intrigued with the character of Webb. They question whether his actions are brave or reckless, and wonder what is motivating some of his more foolhardy decisions. Some students are able to make the link between the history of abuse in Webb's life to his anger problems, and remark upon his growth throughout the novel. In terms of character development, the novel provides a lot to discuss, as Webb's journey helps him overcome past traumas. It also offers compelling comparisons between Webb and characters from other books in the literature circle, particularly Touching Spirit Bear and Peak.
As well, this book is a good choice to include in the literature circle because it opens many avenues for reading. It is part of the Seven Series, a series of seven books by seven different authors. Each book focuses on a different grandchild who is given a task in their grandfather's will. There are also seven prequels and seven sequels, so students can read more about Webb's growth and development. Even though we are still in the midst of our novel study, a few students have already taken out other books in the Seven Series from the school library, which demonstrates the popularity of this title. For its student appeal and its strong themes, I would definitely recommend Devil's Pass.