“The Call of the Wild” by Jack London
I’m fairly sure it was sometime in elementary school, and I’m 99% sure that I probably didn’t care much for it, as I was a girly girl and really liked things with love stories.
Upon learning that Jack London’s classic was on the most challenged list, I decided to read back in September to celebrate Banned Booked Week. Then, full disclosure, I had a baby and completely forgot to write about it. So here goes.
“The Call of the Wild” is a good read.
I originally questioned why it would be banned, but I can sort of understand now. It’s quite a violent book, and one maybe best left for kids who are a little more mature readers, and a little less likely to be upset about sad things happening to puppies. (From experience, I remember reading Roald Dahl’s “The Witches” before I was mature enough to appreciate it, and the very introduction to the book scared me away from it for about a year, so I understand. I literally put the book under my bed for a few months.)
For adult readers, though, it’s a win.
Our hero is a dog named Buck, who’s pretty pampered in his sweet gig as the house dog to a Judge until he’s stolen, sold, and shipped up to Alaska to join teams of dogs pulling sleds for gold prospectors. From there, Buck is reborn. No more is he a sweet pet, but his animal instincts are released and he becomes a strong and cunning leader of a team. In a particularly violent chunk of the book, he faces off with the previous head dog, Spitz, and there’s a bloody battle to the death, which Buck wins and takes the lead position. Buck works for a few teams, including a group of clueless newbies who fight all the time and nearly work their dogs to death. Luckily, Buck winds up with a man named John Thornton, and the two come to love each other deeply. Buck even wins a bet for Thornton by pulling a thousand pound sled locked in ice a hundred yards. (Sad spoiler ahead!) After John Thornton is killed, Buck completely gives in to his nature and heads into the woods where he truly becomes a wild dog. The end.
For those interested in travel or nature writing, “The Call of the Wild” is a classic. Jack London describes his Alaska in gorgeous ways and really brings the experience of being there, particularly the brutality of the weather, to life. He experienced it first-hand, so he knew what he was writing about. (By the way, did you know that Jack London developed scurvy during his time in the Klondike Gold Rush? Me neither!)
I read “The Call of the Wild” on my Kindle after downloading it free from Project Gutenberg. (Also, it appears you can get pretty much everything London ever wrote on PG as well.)