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Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  440 ratings  ·  119 reviews
After their mother's recent death, twelve-year-old Liberty and her eight-year-old sister, Billie, are sent to live with their father, who they haven't seen since they were very young. Things are great at first; the girls are so excited to get to know their father – a traveling photographer who rides around in an RV. But soon, the pressure becomes too much for him, and he ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 9th 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  440 ratings  ·  119 reviews

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Ann Jacobus
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Almost brave? Sisters Liberty and Billie have more courage than you can shake a stick at! This is a heart-wrenching, nail-biting perfect middle-grade adventure, where the girls must survive after suffering the unthinkable. But with heart, guts, determination, and lists, they triumph. As do we, the readers!
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
With her notebook of animal facts in tow, Liberty proves she's much more than almost brave in this middle grade adventure that is equal parts heart-breaking and heart-warming.
Jen • Just One More Page

This review is also posted on my blog.

(view spoiler)
Sheryl Scarborough
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When first we meet twelve year-old Liberty and her eight year-old sister, Billie, they have been abandoned (on purpose) at a sketchy, highway gas station, in the middle of nowhere, on the way to The Four Corners.

The meager options available to these girls are quite bleak, especially since their mother passed away and the person who abandoned them was the dad they had always wanted to know.

Fortunately the incredibly strong, resourceful and almost brave Liberty has a survival strategy firmly in
Ms. Yingling
Nov 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Liberty, who is about ten, and her younger sister Billie have to go and live with their estranged father after the death of their mother in a car accident. Their mother's best friend, Julie, cared for them in the aftermath, but felt that their father, who traveled a lot as a nature photographer, would be able to reconnect with the girls. Instead, an incident occurs, and the father leaves both girls at a gas station in the desert, and doesn't come back. Liberty uses all of her coping skills to ...more
Apr 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
In Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave by Jen White, Liberty is trying desperately to care for her eight-year-old sister, Billie. Liberty herself is only twelve and it has been a very difficult few months. When Billie and Liberty's mom dies suddenly, they don't know what they will do. When the father they haven't seen or heard from for years shows up with his camper and the promise of adventure, they hope that everything will work out as they had always dreamed. Unfortunately, their need for ...more
Sarah Tomp
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness, I absolutely loved this book! Liberty and Billie are the best kind of heroes in the worst kind of situation. So much heart - with a big dose of adventure. A perfect middle grade novel.

Emilie Burack
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lucky to read an advanced copy of this debut novel! Jen White captures the horror of abandonment and gripping power of childhood resilience and courage on every page. A beautiful story that keeps you on the edge of your seat 'til the very end. Brava!
Tena Edlin
Probably a 3.5 if I could be specific. This is a good story about finding “our own pod” and that sometimes family can mean different things in different situations. Liberty is s great character. I loved her spunk and her resourcefulness and her protectiveness for her sister. I loved the idea of Liberty’s journal and how her survival strategies made up the different chapters of the book. There were a couple of over-the-top outlandish events, but they didn’t take away from the story for me. It ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
it was so good i couldn't put it down the main character was so brave and responsible it was one of the best books iv'e read this year
Billie and Liberty are likeable girls caught in an impossible situation. Mom has died; hit by a Ford Explorer crossing the road, her neighbor Julie who clearly has issues of her own steps in and looks after the girls. When she finds Liberty and Billie's dad's contact info she lets him know the girls need him and he shows up in his RV to collect them. Dad is an accomplished nature photographer who Mom refused to talk about. The small family embarks on a summer road trip to photograph the desert ...more
Jeff Raymond
I think I understand why authors want to tackle difficult ideas and concepts for a middle grade audience. I don't get some of the choices that are being made, though. Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave is closer along the lines of Sara Pennypacker's Summer of the Gypsy Moths, complete with a questionable narrative and truly unfortunate plot to go with it. The story is about a pair of siblings trying to survive in what is effectively the middle of nowhere because their father abandons them ...more
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Twelve-year-old Liberty has always had to look out for her sister Billie. She is put to the biggest test of her life when their mother dies and they find themselves abandoned by their estranged father at a gas station. An avid watcher of animal television shows, Liberty takes careful notes. She uses those animal survival strategies to help keep her sister and herself safe.

This book is one of the best middle grade
Newport Librarians
Sep 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm stuck between a 3 and a 4 ... this is really well done for middle schoolers. There is a lot of dark and twisty stuff in here that appears almost lightly touched upon in a gentle manner so as not to completely terrify middle readers.

Liberty is twelve, and finds herself stranded at a gas station with her eight year old sister, Billie. Their good-for-nothing dad left them there (he appears to have some sort of anxiety or Asperger's but it isn't directly addressed). From hiding in the back of
Heather Brown
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: middle schoolers
Liberty and Billie have to be brave. Their mother died and their long-missing father has taken them far from their old home in San Diego in his rattley old RV. He is taking photos of the desert for nature magazines, but he doesn't really know how to care for two little girls. When things go wrong, Liberty takes things into her own hands to save herself and Billie, and find their way home to California. Along the way the girls discover friends and allies they would never have expected - Star Wars ...more
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this read. So much so, I couldn't put it down. A few days later my wife picked it up, and she also stayed up into the early morning to finish it. Really engaging story, which I think is very valuable for the target audience, but also for adults. One theme I loved from this story, was a message of resilience.

I think our life of constant interruption and fast paced movement, doesn't allow us to recognize resilience as a virtue. I like how this book doesn't hide the fact that most
Dominik Von
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
When Liberty and Billie are left at a gas station by their dad, they will need to get out and find somewhere to stay. They go from a hotel to a boy with a mean brother’s house to a rat keeper’s home. They call a family friend, who doesn’t answer the phone. The question is, if their father comes back, can they ever forgive him?
This is a story about how two people, even after they’re abandoned, can forgive. The sisters were lost, but when they were found, they felt better than ever. Anybody will
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Welcome to the most perfect middle grade book I've read in a long while.
It has
1. an endearing 12-year-old protagonist who takes her job as protector of her little sister very seriously.
2. a heart-pounding plot, where the palpitations begin on page one.
3. achingly beautiful prose in which every word seems to be exactly the right one.
4. enough fun and interesting animals facts woven throughout to delight boys and girls alike.
I thought about this book long after I finished it. I'm pretty sure
Lisa Nagel
Unique and engaging story of the strength of a young girl and the bonds of family. I loved the voice of Liberty and her bravery that is barely keeping things together. When her unpredictable dad leaves her and her sister out in the middle of the desert, Liberty is left to figure things out and keep her sister safe. There is a great cast of quirky characters that Liberty describes with her unique voice. I was rooting for Liberty from the beginning. I also liked the format of each chapter heading ...more
Yamile Méndez
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Jen White, my heart is torn to pieces! I loved this book. The characters are darling, the pace is incredible (I couldn't put it down), and the end is beautiful. So, so well written! Way to go! Except for those "babies." Still shuddering.
Only one thing: I would have liked to know Tattoo Guy's name, and maybe see him one more time. But other than that, no complaints. This book is beautiful!
Susan Walker
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this novel by a first time Author. The story of two girls whose Mother dies and are given to their father who has not seen them for years. He ends up leaving them at a gas station. The story of who the oldest, eleven, copes and watches out for her sister is heart warming and heart breaking.
Jul 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Two girls, their mom dies unexpectedly, they go live with their dad whom they don't know, and it doesn't go well. I really didn't like the younger sister, but I didn't like any of the characters and didn't feel like I knew them at all. Maybe kids would like it better than I did. 4th-6th grade. Survival, sisters, death, perseverance, family.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Spoiler Alert!
There was a lot to like about this book. I liked the format- survival strategies that applied to circumstances as they arose. I liked the characters. I liked the sweetness between the sisters. I liked the animal analogies throughout the story. The author had descriptions of Liberty's feelings that I thought were clever and insightful, such as "worry bubbled through my blood like carbonation", and "fear slowly stalked around in my chest, ready to split me in two."

There were a few
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
12 year-old Liberty will do anything to protect her younger sister, Billie. But will it be enough?

After their beloved mother dies suddenly, the girls' estranged father comes to take them to live in his camper with him for the summer (and maybe forever). They haven't seen him in years, and he hasn't been part of their life. But surely everything will be fine. And it is at first. But when their dad leaves them behind at a gas station in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, Liberty must make hard
Megan Ruby
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave” By Jen White, is about two sisters, after their mother dies, they are left to be with their father who they have not seen in years. At first things are good, but when their father stops at a gas station in the middle of the dessert for a bathroom break, when the girls come out, he is nowhere to be seen. At first, the eldest tries to reassure that their father will return but after hours and hours, they both know that he’s not coming back. Now, the two ...more
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
We read this book for our PTA book club at the school. The idea for the book came from an experience the author had in being left for a short time at a gas station when she was a child. She wondered what it would be like to be abandoned at a gas station (for more than a few hours). In this book two sisters are left by their father. This book is their attempt at staying safe and trying to get back home. The oldest sister, Liberty, loves animals and so she is able to tie their survival strategies ...more
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought the book was just okay. The writing was fine, but I found a lot of the happenings unbelievable. Maybe it would have bothered me less if the girls ages were 8 and 4 instead of 12 and 8? I also felt there were too many tough issues tackled in one book - abuse, abandonment, death, lots of people with disorders (the dad, Rat Lady, Star Wars boy's brother, etc.), etc. Or maybe I just missed the point of it all! I did care about the characters and I love at the end when Liberty is talking ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book. The story of two girls looking to find their way back to their dad keeps you on the edge of your feet and keeps you wondering, "what will happen next?" The text has many anxiety filled moments that keeps you rooting for these girls. The climax sets the tone for the rest of the story thereafter and changes the story completely. Jen White's ability to develop characters keeps the story fresh and entertaining and allows for the perfect ending. White also uses a ...more
Connie Hendricks
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I was in the mood for an easy read that would grab my attention and leave me without shaking my head about man's inhumanity to man as some of my recent reading has done. The father seemed inhumane but in the end I did have a moment of feeling sorry for him. , It was well enough written and the characters were appealing enough to allow me to become involved in their story and the author kept the story moving with just enough hints of things to come to keep me engaged. Even as the book ended I ...more
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