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The Courage Test

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  285 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Will has no choice. His father drags him along on a wilderness adventure in the footsteps of legendary explorers Lewis and Clark--whether he likes it or not. All the while, Will senses that something about this trip isn't quite right.

Along the journey, Will meets fascinating strangers and experiences new thrills, including mountain cliffs, whitewater rapids, and a heart-ha
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Feiwel & Friends
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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  285 ratings  ·  73 reviews

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Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was just OK for me. I picked it up because I enjoy reading books about road trips. That part of the book, I enjoyed. I liked reading the historical facts about the Lewis & Clark Expedition, many of which I was not familiar with. But aside from the that, the story fell flat. Unfortunately, I felt there were too many "adventures," like getting tossed from the raft while white water rafting, meeting a bear after dropping the can of bear spray, and picking up a pregnant illegal immigrant a ...more
Although books about journeys that test characters and prepare them for other tests in life abound, this one is a nice addition to those sorts of books. Will Miller--full name William Meriwether Miller because of his father's obsession with Lewis and Clark--leaves Minneapolis with his father to follow in the footsteps of that great expedition that led to the expansion and settling of the United States and the West. Will is still stinging from what he considers to be his father's desertion after ...more
Mary Louise Sanchez
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure, realistic
William Meriwether Miller's plans for a baseball summer with the All-Stars are nixed by his mother who makes him accompany his dad/ her ex-husband on a trip following the Lewis and Clark Trail. Will's dad is a history professor and Will believes this trip is a father/son bonding and educational trip to experience what the explorers learned.

Will does learn what it's like to ride the rapids, camp out, and encounter a bear. He also meets a modern Nez Perce Native American who works in Manhattan an
I picked this book because of its cover: it was clearly trying to be Newbery material.

And the first 45% or so didn't disappoint. A little light, a little thin on the page (large fonts, wide margins and line spacing), but a fantastic set up for this coming-of-age adventure.

And then we meet the "illegal girl" and the book never seems to recover. I'll think about it some more, but I don't think it adds much to the story. (view spoiler)
Chance Lee
In The Courage Test a road trip/wilderness adventure brings a dad and son closer together. I'm assuming. I didn't finish it. This is a fine book. The writing is engaging. It weaves in the history of Lewis & Clark's expedition and emphasizes that they were the first white people to explore the land -- although I'm unsure it digs any deeper than that. The main character being named William Meriwether Clark is a little too twee for me, and the story's lack of depth and nuance failed to hold my inte ...more
This story depicts the experiences of a father and son on an adventure to follow along part of the trail of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The two are estranged and the son is an unwilling participant in the journey, but they both learn more about each other along the way.

Overall, I found it to be an engaging and fast read and I really enjoyed it. We discussed this book at the children's book club that I facilitate at our local library, but my group did not enjoy it quite as much as I did.

Suzanne Dix
An interesting coming-of-age/how to get along with your estranged father type of story. It features a lot of history about the Lewis and Clark Expedition which I enjoyed. Overall, the story was good though it felt as if the dialogue between son and father was contrived.

Grades 6 and up.
Kim Bahr
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the history of the Lewis and Clark expedition sprinkled throughout the story.
Liz Friend
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
The story: Will's dad whisks him away to follow Lewis and Clark's 200-year-old trail--what's up with that? Along the way, Will figures out that his did isn't as bad as he thought...right at the same time that they help an illegal immigrant, shoot the rapids, adopt a dog, and turn blue in the Pacific Ocean. Just like Lewis and Clark! Right!?!?

June Cleaver's ratings: Language PG; Violence G; Sexual content G; Nudity G; Substance abuse PG; Magic & the occult G; GLBT content G; adult themes (parenta
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is such a twisted trail through the life of William, with his relationship with his dad. At the beginning he doesn't really like his dad but throughout the story he learns more about him when they go on a trip through the whole trail of Lewis and Clark (William was named after Lewis). It is a nice historical story of Lewis and Clark but also the growth of a character.
Christina Pilkington
*3.5 stars

Earlier this summer I drove with my family across the US to Oregon on a month long road trip. I wanted to find a read aloud about a character who was taking a similar road trip to share with my family in the car.

My research lead me to The Courage Test, the story of a boy taking a trip with his dad to the Oregon Coast. Will, the main character, does not want to go on this trip at first. He has to leave his mom for the summer and not be apart of his baseball team, all to take a road trip
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Will is upset with his dad for making him miss his All-Star baseball practices to take him on a trip to explore the footsteps of Lewis and Clark's journey. He is also upset because of his parents' divorce last year. His attitude and voice are realistic for a middle school student going through these things.

The story has a little bit of history, wilderness survival, and discovery about one's self and family. I think some kids will be disappointed there isn't more survival and wilderness and migh
Judi Paradis
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Will is not happy that he is missing an important baseball tournament to travel the Lewis and Clark trail with his Dad. His Dad, who divorced his mom, and has lots of weird habits, and cannot throw a baseball to save his life. Like lots of kids, Will alternates frustration with his Dad with moments when he really gets him. As they travel across the West and encounter a Native American banker, a homeless Mexican teenager, and a bear, we learn more about why Will's Dad initiated this journey, and ...more
Reagan Fenicle
The book I read was the Courage Test by James Preller and its about how Will has to go on a trip with his dad but doesn't want to. Will's parents got divorced and now he lives with him mom, and they are like best friends. Then when will is forced to go on this trip with his dad he is not very happy.

I like how the book was kind of educational while it was still fun and entertaining. I wish that the book would talk a little bit more about his mom, but overall it was a pretty good book.

I would reco
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Quick read. My son read this for school and recommended because he knows I like to hike and explore. All in all it's a fun travel adventure of a father and son following the Lewis and Clark expedition across the United States through the lens of a testy teen.

Well written. Poignant considering my kid's ages (10 and 11). All in all just an inspiring, creative, adventurous read. Not much bad to say. It's not going to make my top 10 of 2018, but it's enjoyable - especially if you have a tween and y
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
4th book of the #30booksummer challenge. “I remember how it began. That day she pushed me out the door into my father’s arms, as if she needed us to be together. He’s the only father you’ve got, she said. So out we went, headed west. To close our wounds, to open our hearts, to prepare for the courage test ahead.” A good read about a young boy who’s parents have just divorced. I think a lot of kids, boys and girls, will be able to relate to Will and his confusing feelings of a lot of anger mixed ...more
Will and his dad are heading out on a summer road trip, much to Will's dismay - he'd rather be home with his mom and playing baseball with his friends. Will's dad is a Lewis & Clark historian and they are headed to retrace the historic trip. Their current day trip starts to mirror the one of the explorers, with some modern twists.

If I could, I'd give this 2.5 stars, it was not like I thought it would be. The internal journey that mirrors Will's road trip added to the story, and I liked learning
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it

William Meriwether Miller—named after Meriwether Lewis and William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame—is not happy about embarking on a wilderness adventure with the father who walked out on him and his mother. It's not what he had in mind for his summer (he's missing the chance to play on the All-Stars baseball team), but his mother insists. So he and his father,( a history professor working on a book about the famous explorers), set off from Minnesota to North Dakota, driving, camping, raft
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kidreads
An easy middle grade read of a father-son trip from Minnesota to Seaside, Oregon, loosely following the trail of Lewis and Clark. Will grudgingly goes on this trip, hating it to begin with, but faces trials with his dad and learns a lot along the way. My 10 yr old son is reading this at the same time as me and enjoying it!
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
I can tell the author is just as fascinated by the Lewis and Clark expedition as I am, but that wasn't enough to make this a good book. Will's dad drags him unwillingly along on a trip that follows the course of the expedition. They have some adventures, but it is pretty predictable and just didn't engage me. ...more
Howard Phoenix
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
A nice, easier read for both older and younger readers. I enjoyed Preller's story, and how with an adventure for a high schooler can bring them home. We can read, learn, and experience how the modern people have lost touch with the real, living world around us. May give a great idea for a themed Vacation for some. For most this would be a weekend read. ...more
Sara-Zoe Patterson
It's ok. Not great, not the worst. I found the promises foretold in the beginning of the book fell through - and I just kept waiting for something that never happened. A pretty easy read though. 4th, 5th ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: piper
I thought that this book was good but was for a younger age. I thought it was boring at times because I felt like I had read it before but I was just reading a book that was like every other adventure book. I thought it was cute how the boy and dad became friend again but it was in a very fake way.
Rachel Ramey-Mackie
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very engaging read aloud for middle grades! There are some parts that may need a little teacher-censorship on the fly (depending on the age/maturity level of your students) but no more than other books at this reading level.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
good theme and parallel (son/father trip and lewis and clark)...but rough and forced characters and details(son/father relationship interaction, vulgar(ie giving the middle finger), divorce, illegal immigration, spirit animals, questioning the value of prayer)
Sep 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Lewis and Clark which drew me to this book. Some great similes and descriptions in the writing. The storyline and Will's behavior towards his dad are elements jr. high students can relate to. The ending is a little S. E. Hintonish. That's okay; I am a big fan of hers. ...more
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
A cute middle grade novel about a boy and his dad on a summer trip along part of the Lewis and Clark trail. Good for realistic adventure and nature readers.
Jessica  Van Tassell
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love a good teen/parent dynamic and this one melted my heart. I also loved the history lesson and it made me want to go out camping and exploring-pretty good for a 200 page book.
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked that this book incorporated retracing the journey of Lewis and Clark, but the character development didn't really pull me in. ...more
Sandi Ellis
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fun read for those who already are familiar with the Lewis and Clark expedition, but it's not necessary to know anything about it to enjoy the story! ...more
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James Preller (born 1961) is the children's book author of the Jigsaw Jones Mysteries, which are published by Scholastic Corporation. He grew up in Wantagh, New York and went to college in Oneonta, New York. After graduating from college in 1983, James Preller was employed as a waiter for one year before being hired as a copywriter by Scholastic Corporation, where he was introduced (through their ...more

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