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


Read to see if it might be interesting for my students - but am not sure the flipping between families really worked. Characters were believable & likable but story just halfway interesting. Too many loose ends for my taste.

Christine DeLange

Perhaps it's because I'm from an era when children still played outside and had adventures themselves, I don't take to this book. The reader has to wait until half way until disaster strikes. The author has mixed up two totally different reader groups. I was expecting an adventure where 2 boys were trying to find their mother in an foreign country in the snow.


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.

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.

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.


If you are looking for a decent adventure book for boys I would recommend this book. It pales in comaparison to Alabama Moon and My Side of the Moutain but I think adventure seeking young readers would still enjoy this story. The two main characters are brothers who are close in age. They have a spirit and spunk that keep the story alive. The sub plot between an older sister and the mother who abandons her is also interesting from a female adult perspective but I don't think many young readers would be interested in this element of the story.

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.


Wilderness tells the intertwining stories of members of a blended family living in Dublin, and weaves together their experiences of growing-up. Doyle captures the voices of the characters perfectly, and brings the stories together with great skill, balancing the tension and emotions throughout.Brothers Tom and Johnny are taken on a wilderness holiday by their mother, to take part in a dog-sled expedition through Finnish Lapland. I've been there myself to do a dog-sled trip, and thought that the descriptions of the conditions and the experience particularly accurate. (I think I even had the same guide as the characters!) Following an accident, the boys must work together to overcome the fear of the unknown and save their mother.Meanwhile, their older half-sister Gráinne waits to be reunited with the mother that abandoned her as a child. Her story tells of her rage at being abandoned and fear of being hurt and rejected a second time, and gradually getting to know her mother again as a young adult.Younger readers will enjoy the excitement and action of the boys' story, and teens may relate to the tension of Gráinne's experience as she accepts a more adult relationship with her parents, but on the whole the two stories seem to be aimed at different audiences, and detract rather that complement each other. It also lacks much of the characteristic humour of Doyle's other work, which would have raised it another star.


The Griffins are a blended family. Unfortunately they have been going through an oil-and-water phase. Surly teen Grainné isn't sad to see her half-brothers and stepmother head off on an adventure holiday in Finland. While Johnny, Tom, and mom Sandra are dog-sledding in the frozen north, Grainné is steeling herself to see her mother for the first time in more than 10 years. Each of the children has to find strength and maturity and courage to face physical and emotional hazards, Just as the characters don't blend well, these two plot lines seem to be written for different audiences, even by different authors. The tale of outdoor adventure has lively, likable characters, all of whom could have been more fully developed. The family drama is interesting, but not nearly as compelling because the main actors -- daughter and estranged mother -- are thinly drawn. Read Wilderness for the outdoor adventure with two engaging boys, a fun-loving mother, the capable sled dogs guides, and the remarkable sled dogs.

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

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.


I love Roddy Doyle so I read this YA adventure/family story but if you haven't read any of his books and you want to, this isn't the one you want

Marielle Ruth

1. A book about survival2. Because the books of Roddy Doyle are good so I thought this one will be good too and I was right but it wasn't the best of Roddy Doyle.3. I enjoyed it when Tom and Johnny and their mother Sandra went for an adventure in Finland but one night Sandra got lost in the wilderness. So Tom and Johnny had to take risks to save their mother who was lost in the wilderness. I also enjoyed 4. When Grainne's mother had to leave her because her parents divorced.5. My friend Rachelle because she likes to read adventure and stories about reuniting of relationships whether it's about broken families or friends


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.

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.

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