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The End of the Wild

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  255 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
A modern, beautifully written story set against the backdrop of the controversial issue of fracking that explores the timely themes of poverty, environmental protection, what makes a family, and finding your place in the world.

Eleven-year-old Fern's rundown home borders a pristine forest, where her impoverished family hunts and forages for food. It's also her refuge from
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Ms. Yingling
Apr 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Public Library Copy

Fern's family is struggling more than most. Her mother was killed in an auto accident a year ago, and her step father is out of work. Their town is an impoverished one, so when a fracking company sets up operations in the woods near Fern's house, many people look at it as a great opportunity, including Alkomso, Fern's friend, and some of her other classmates. To Fern, it means that the woods on which she depends for food for her family is in jeopardy, and she will be unable to
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This novel by Nicole Helget could not have been more timely, with the republicans intent on slashing science funding, along with their denial of global warming. Helget's novel centers on the environmental impact of fracking. She develops all angles of this issue, including the economics for struggling families. Preserving nature is an evident and worthy cause as penned by Helget. I can't help but think of the alarm of a retiring science teacher at my school. He worries that national parks and t ...more
Nora Bloom
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book if you like looking for wild foods. In this book the main character uses the wilderness as a supermarket.
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lynne
This book is timely as it deals with the issue of fracking. Told from the point of view of an eleven-year-old girl living with her father in a poverty-stricken town. The struggling townspeople are divided as to whether or not to allow a fracking company in their area. On the plus side, it will create jobs and increase revenue. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of potentially ruining precious land. Fern is dead set against the infringement until her father seeks employment from the fracking c ...more
Liz Russell
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So The End of The Wild by Nicole Helget is a really great, quick read. It follows eleven year old Fern who lives in great poverty with her brothers and stepfather at the edge of these woods. Fern’s tenacity, passion for the environment, and love of the natural world around her is visceral. You will deeply sympathize with Fern as she struggles to balance all the things in her life-- school, holding her family together, and wrestling with local environmental concerns. It’s from these woods that he ...more
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fern carries a much heavier load than most eleven year old kids. Her mother and youngest brother died some time ago, and she has taken over her mother's responsibilities, helping her other brothers with their homework, preparing meals, paying bills and keeping their small home as neat as possible. Making this even harder is the fact that her father has difficulty keeping a job, so they are extremely poor, and Fern struggles to keep them all fed. Luckily they live way in the country, and Fern's m ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I was looking for a unique food book and I sure found one. Fern knows the edible foods in the woods behind her house and forages to help feed her struggling family. A fracking company threatens to clear out the woods and the food source that Fern and her family rely on. But it also offers stable jobs. Tough choices.... This multi-layered book addresses poverty, education, natural resources, and conflicts between family, friends, and community. As a bonus, End of the Wild includes recipes from th ...more
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book! The author has skillfully woven together complicated issues related to the environment, poverty, custody, friendship and prejudice. There is no sugar-coating in this story. I especially liked the way Fern's brothers are portrayed as wild and a little uncontrollable, as well as how the students in the class are at times realistically rude and thoughtless in their remarks. Fern herself is determined, caring and not afraid to question what is happening around her. The au ...more
Rebecca Davis
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My friend and I read Helget's book aloud to each other on a long road trip. We both loved it. Although a few reviewers have said, "What? Another dead mother?", the heaviness of Fern's grief seems necessary to make Fern's discoveries about life and the weightiness of her coming-of-age really work. I was expecting the novel to be a full-on rant (metaphorically speaking; I know Helget well enough to know she wouldn't beat us over the head with her message) against fracking. Instead, she showed us c ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mock-newbery
Don't read this if you're looking for a lighthearted story. I did like that it was an "issue" novel that wasn't overly preachy. But man, Fern's house made me feel cold and hungry.
Carissa Waida
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book to use as a launching point for nature study and to discuss foraging. It has much more to it than that though. This book confronts numerous complex issues and makes for great discussion material. I thought Helmet did a great job of balancing the competing issues. And an even better job refraining from drawing conclusions on those issues. She leaves that up to the reader. I think it would make a great read aloud.
Mrs. Hornick
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The novel, The End of the Wild, by Nicole Helget is about an eleven-year-old girl named Fern. After Fern’s mom got married to Toivo, her grandfather cut money off. All was going well until Millner the man that owns the woods in which Fern lives in, gets in a car crash with Fern’s mom and her baby brother Matti. Now, with the only source of money cut off, Toivo, Mikko and Alexi, Ferns two brothers, and Fern, have to forage for food and make food. They live in a really small worn down “house”, so ...more
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Fern, whose mother and baby brother died in an auto accident, is 11 and lives in the woods with her stepfather and two brothers. Her stepfather is out of work and suffers from PTSD and depression, partially caused by serving in the war and partially caused by his wife’s death. So it’s up to Fern to care for her brothers and to figure out how to put food on the table. Thankfully, her mother taught her about foraging in the woods and left lots of recipes, which help Fern figure out how to feed her
Laura Gardner
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 for THE END OF WILD by #nicolehelget. Thanks to @theloudlibrarylady's 12 year old daughter for recommending this one to me!
Fern does not have it easy. Her mother and baby brother died in a car accident two years ago and her stepdad (who never formally adopted her) is struggling with PTSD and is out of work. Her two little brothers run wild in the woods (and the house) and Fern and her stepdad struggle to put food on the table. Fern's knowledge of the woods helps; she's good at
Kelsey Buckley
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fern has more responsibilities than most other eleven year old girls. She lives with her stepfather and younger brothers and works hard to keep her family together and functioning. She helps forage and feed her brothers and ensures they do their homework. Her woods are her home as well as the source of much of their food as they struggle to make ends meet. When frackers come to town, she is upset that her woods may disappear, but her family and friends don't seem to feel the same way. They are h ...more
Maddi Clark
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it
The end of the wild was a beautiful middle grade story about a modern family living in a run-down home that borders a pristine forest, where her family hunts and forages food. Fern, an eleven year old is responsible for her wild, reckless younger brothers and PTSD-stricken step-father. She is the leader, protecter and voice of her family to keep them together and not apart. When a fracking companys comes into the town, her forest could be ripped away. Fern is also trying to make sure that her gr ...more
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I really like Nicole Helget so I decided to try this YA novel from her. It's simplistic and therefore easy reading. It's definitely written for the 6-8th grader but the message regarding fracking is driven home throughout the book. The dilemma of jobs vs the environment is a nation wide problem. Far too many people are willing to hide from the scientific evidence in order to obtain short sighted jobs. It's fracking, it's coal mining in West Virginia, it's mining in Norther Minnesota. We're far t ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The End of the Wild is a phenomenal read. This book is targeted to a broad audience; fourth grade and up, because of its amazingly written plot and its meaningfulness. Nicole Helget really signifies how nature is substantial in many aspects in our world today. The End of the Wild connects to readers who really understand the significance of nature and how it impacts people’s lives, and really focuses on an influential topic, fracking. Because of this, readers can really understand how important ...more
3.5 stars. As the book began, I worried this might turn out to be one with a heavy-handed ecological message that overshadowed everything else. It was a pleasant surprise to find that Helget was more interested in creating questions for her characters--and her readers--to explore. And not just ecological questions (like nature versus economics), but also questions about friendship, family ties, cultural differences, economic differences, small town politics, and grieving and forgiveness. Hand th ...more
Molly Dettmann
Fern is an 11-year-old girl living with her stepfather and two brothers in poverty, with sometimes only the nature of the woods near their home to eat for sustenance. Her mother died in a car accident a few years before and her stepfather and grandfather are in a heated custody battle over her. When a fracking company rolls into town, threatening her precious woodland home, Fern enters the STEM fair to educate those about what they all stand to lose. Despite jobs and wealth being promised by thi ...more
Virginia Walter
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Fern's stepfather is out of work, and she forages for food in the woods outside of her Michigan home, using recipes left behind by her mother who died in a car accident. Her dependence on the nature around her for sustenance and delight is threatened when a tracking company proposes to put their wastewater pool where a pond now sits. Both sides of the fracking issue are presented -- possible economic benefits versus destruction of natural habitats. This is also a rare depiction in children's lit ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Found this to be a really lovely read for younger middle grade readers (although older ones would probably appreciate it too). It's a timely look at fracking and economic depression in rural America that is approached with realness, but also a gentleness that (I think) manages to not be politically polarizing (unless you're just so sensitive that you refuse to read anything that could be looked at as "questioning" of fracking's impact on the environment).
Julie Trejo 5th Grade
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The End of the Wild deals with hard topics in real world ways. From fracking to strained family relationships to single parent families to pets, Fern learns that there are at least two sides to everything.

Readers who are passionate about any cause should read The End of the Wild to realize that other valid opinions might exist. Helget takes Carl Hiaasen's eco-mystery works like Scat, Chomp, and Hoot to the next level.
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cherie In the Dooryard
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
My fourth grader recommended this to me after she enjoyed it. At first I was not enamored; dead mother, poverty-focused, hopeless environmental causes books are not my thing. However, I have to respect how Helget handled all the threads in this book, including the difficult environment vs. economy fight that even adults can't discuss. The ending is a little pat--even while left relatively open--but overall, I think it's a great middle grade book.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
This seems to be the "message novel" for children. Most of the time "messave novels" are not enduring titles as there is more focus on the message than the craft of writing the nove. There are some touching moments about friendship and how children face ridule from their classmates. Also some real moments about children being pawns between the various adults in their lives who think they are the best adult influence for the child.
Amanda Harrison
This is clearly an issue book, that covers the impact of fracking on wilderness, jobs, and families. I appreciated that the author took a nuanced view here and considered that in many cases the alternatives are coal or wood.

I would give this a 3 out 5 if not for the additional and well developed story about Children's Protective Services and the impact on families. A worthwhile book for that storyline, if for no other reason.
Mary Lee
Economics (rural poverty), the environment (fracking), families (foster care), and immigration (Somalian refugees) are just a few of the many issues packed into this book. While the story borders on having too much going on, all of the strands are well woven.

Don't miss the passionate author's note.

Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book which centers around a young girl whose family's existence is threatened by fracking and loss of foraging land in Michigan. The story presents a balanced discussion of the issues while allowing the reader to understand Fern's daily struggles. I would recommend this to anyone without hesitation. Bonus: dogs, lots of great dogs in the story.
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Perhaps my low rating for this book is because I thought it was capable of so much more. Unlike so many middle-grade writers, Nicole Helget knows her readers are smarter and more mature than we give them credit for. I feel that the novel didn't get interesting until the end, so the ending felt abrupt. I admire the author for the topics she approached and will definitely read more by her.
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Born in 1976, Nicole Helget grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota, a childhood and place she drew on in the writing of her memoir, The Summer of Ordinary Ways. She received her BA and an MFA in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Based on the novel's first chapter, NPR's Scott Simon awarded The Turtle Catcher the Tamarack Prize from Minnesota Monthly.
More about Nicole Helget

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