ISBN: 0439023564
ISBN 13: 9780439023566
By: Roddy Doyle

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About this book

One part family drama, one part action-adventure; this is the children's novel we've been waiting for from Booker Prize winner Roddy Doyle!A novel of mothers lost and found. Grainne's Mom disappeared years ago when her parents were divorced, and Mom moved to the U.S. Now, bafflingly, she's reappeared and wants to meet. What could she be up to?To get out of the way of this mysterious reunion, Grainne's half-brothers, Johnny and Tom, go with their mother, Sandra, on an "adventure holiday" in Finland. But before they're more than a few days into the snowy north, the boys are separated from Sandra, taking impossible risks to save her life. WILDERNESS is part-adventure, part-family drama with a charm that's all Roddy.

Reader's Thoughts

Jonah Tarmu

i gave this book 4 stars because it was entertaining, but not really very climatic. it was kind of boring, most of the time. what happen is 2 boys and their mother, take a trip to Finland. once they get their its all fun. the hotel is beutifull. and they get to take trips on sled dogs. until thier mothers go astray. and she gets stranded. the boys find her and they save her.MEANWHILEwhile this is all happening. they have a half sister who is meeting her mother for the first time. but she doesnt like her much. but than she starts to like her a bit. thats pretty much it though.

Ciara *I love Harry Potter!*

3•5 starsRoddy Doyle writes generally humourous books, and this book was very different. The description on the blurb is correct; it is part family drama, part adventure.At best, this book was entertaining, at worst, dull. (e.g. the moments with Grainne and Rosemary...some of those were quite dull.) All in all, this book is enjoyable.

Nicolas Rojas

this book is focking sheet and nobody should read it, because is focking sheet of book i have reed this book 50 times and is not good if you like vaginas and cooks read this bood


Johnny Griffin was nearly twelve and his brother, Tom, was ten. They lived in Dublin, with their parents and their sister. They were two ordinary boys. And they were being very ordinary the day their mother made the announcement.They were in the kitchen, doing their homework. It was raining outside, and the rain was hammering on the flat roof of the kitchen. So they didn’t hear their mother’s key in the front door and they didn’t hear her walking up the hall. Suddenly, she was there.I picked up Wilderness by Roddy Doyle at the library, in the Italian translation by Giuliana Zeuli. I had read somewhere it was a YA book, and I'm always curious about YA literature. However, the Italian translation is being marketed as a book for adults. I probably wouldn't have picked it up but for the sentence on the cover, "Roddy Doyle is a genius"-J.K.Rowling. If JKR likes this it can't be too bad, I thought.This is a novel about "mothers lost and found", says the book jacket. Grainne is an eighteen-year-old Irish girl with si much anger inside. Her mother abandoned when she was just a baby and when to live in New York. Her father has remarried with Sandra and had had other two boys, Johnny and Tom. The relationship between Sandra and Grainne is particularly strained.One day Grainne learns that her long-lost mother is coming back to Ireland to visit. The meeting, however, will go differently than how she expects. In the meantime, in order to give Grainne some space, Sandra and the boys leave for Finland to go on an "adventure holiday" in the snow. The boys are happy and excited. But when one evning their mother goes missing in the snow, they will have to take a brave, tough decision.The two stories - Grainne's, and Johnny and Tom's - are told in parallel, in alternating chapters with very non-committal titles, like "In the forest", "In the kitchen, "At the airport" etc. The narrating style is very simple and direct in the parts in Johnny and Tom's point of view while it is slightly more complicated and mature in the parts told from Grainne's perspective.I have to be honest: I'm not a fan of adventure tales. I was much more interested in Grainne's story than in the "adventure holiday". But this was a good book all the same.

Jennifer Wardrip

Reviewed by Grandma Bev for TeensReadToo.comTen-year-old Tom Griffin and his older brother, twelve-year-old Johnny, live in Dublin, Ireland, with their parents and a teenaged half-sister, Grainne. Grainne has not seen or heard from her mother since she was a baby, and now her mother is coming from America for a visit. Grainne is nervous about the visit. Will seeing her mother heal the hurt of being abandoned by this woman? The boys' mother, Sandra, decides to take the boys somewhere else during the visit by Grainne's mother, and arranges a holiday in Finland for herself and the boys. They are going to have a grand adventure. This story is told in alternating chapters as Tom and Johnny become acquainted with sled dogs and their handler and then go off into the wilderness on an exciting dog sled ride to a remote lodge. And as Grainne nervously waits for the arrival of her birth mother. The boys are excited about the chance to help feed and water the sled dogs, and to help with camp chores. They are having a grand time, until their mother disappears. Her lead dog is a rogue who decides to go his own way, and she becomes lost in the cold, snowy uninhabited forest. It is dark, and the sled tips over and injures Sandra. She can't get back on the sled, or get the dogs under control. The boys decide to take a team of dogs and sled and search for their mother on their own, and they sneak out of the lodge and harness the dogs. It's dark and cold, with deep snow, and the trail is not clear, but their lead dog seems to know where he is going...or does he? Tween readers can relate to the realistic characters and their emotions as Roddy Doyle tells this dramatic story in sparse, simple language, while keeping the tension high. With the rowdy rambunctious boys and their adventure in Finland, the frantic search for their mother, and the angst of a teenaged girl meeting the mother who abandoned her, there is something for everyone in this exciting story.


Very young style of writing, i wasn't too impressed with this book as i thought that the back made the book sound amazing, however, there were too many short sentences.

Sheila Quealey

Wilderness by Roddy Doyle was a big disappointment. I picked it for my junior book club because I loved his other adult books. I also loved The Giggler Treatment. I found this story pretty weak and out of 15 girls in my book club 12 of them didn't enjoy it.


Fun adventure story with lots of sled dogs and snow. The voice is a little choppy at times and the Irish slang gets in the way. The voices change between younger boys and older girl so this would have broad appeal

Matt Lydon

Not as good as some of his other books, but Wilderness is still good. The theme of mothers being lost and reuniting seems a bit forced, but this is Doyle, who somehow pulls out off.


Roddy Doyle is a brilliant author, and this book, written for a young audience, is proof of his brilliance. The relationships between each mother and the child/ren are powerful, and once again support the notion that the link between a mother and her child is unbreakable. Some of the scenes describing the adventure through the snow were a little tedious at times, but the underlying story is strong.


Wilderness by Roddy Doyle is a wonderful family drama and snowy adventure book combined. It is about a family of five, two brothers Tom and Johnny, their half sister Grainne, their mother Sandra and father Frank. When Tom, Johnny and Sandra go on vacation to Finland to go on a dog sledding expedition, Grainne and Frank stay home so that Grainne can meet her mother who "abandoned" her. But when Sandra gets lost on the groups way to a stop, Tom and Johnny go out with the dogs to rescue her, breaking all the rules and going out into the bitter cold wilderness. If you like adventure and dogs, this is the book for you. I give this book a deserving five stars and I hope you do too! Roddy Doyle is a genius.

Karen Field

Wilderness is a book for younger readers. I usually enjoy such books, but something about this one just didn't do it for me. I didn't connect with the characters. I couldn't relate to them. It's a story of two boys who are taken on a wilderness holiday by their mother. She is keen to be away from home while her husband's first wife visits their daughter, who lives with her dad. I enjoyed the mother/daughter relationship -- the fear, anger and getting to know each other scenes. However, I didn't enjoy the wilderness side of the book. It bordered on boring. It didn't feel realistic. And the climax wasn't very suspenseful.It's a story that explores relationships within dysfunctional families, which is a situation I know well, but that's where my connection with this book ended.Having said this, it wasn't a terrible book, just not meaningful enough for my liking.


Ein wirklich interessantes Buch. Interessant deshalb, weil man sich erstmal an die teilweise ungewohnte Wortwahl bzw. Struktur des Autors gewöhnen muss, seine Naturbeschreibungen aber unheimlich lebensecht und fesselnd sind. Auch die beschriebene Familie ist zum Glück keine Friede-Freude-Eierkuchen Familie, sondern hat echte Probleme, die zumindest mich sehr wütend gemacht haben.Nicht nur für Kinder bzw. Jugendliche ist es empfehlenswert!


This is a strange book. It has a good plot, but personally I think it could use a better variety of words.

Joan Fallon

I am a big Roddy Doyle fan and this delightful little book does not disappoint. He writes about children and childhood so vividly that the two brothers who are the little heroes of this story are totally believable. Set in Lapland it is the story of a fairytale holiday that goes very wrong.

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