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The Canyon's Edge

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A novel in verse about a young girl's struggle for survival after a climbing trip with her father goes terribly wrong.

One year after a random shooting changed their family forever, Nora and her father are exploring a slot canyon deep in the Arizona desert, hoping it will help them find peace. Nora longs for things to go back to normal, like they were when her mother was still alive, while her father keeps them isolated in fear of other people. But when they reach the bottom of the canyon, the unthinkable happens: A flash flood rips across their path, sweeping away Nora's father and all of their supplies.

Suddenly, Nora finds herself lost and alone in the desert, facing dehydration, venomous scorpions, deadly snakes, and, worst of all, the Beast who has terrorized her dreams for the past year. If Nora is going to save herself and her father, she must conquer her fears, defeat the Beast, and find the courage to live her new life.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published September 8, 2020

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About the author

Dusti Bowling

14 books972 followers
DUSTI BOWLING grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, where, as her family will tell you, she always had her nose in a book. She released her first middle grade novel in 2017 and hasn't stopped writing since.

Dusti's books have won the Reading the West Award, the Sakura Medal, a Golden Kite Honor, the William Allen White Children's Book Award, and have been nominated for a Cybil and over thirty state awards. Her books are Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selections and have been named best books of the year by the Chicago Public Library, Kirkus, Bank Street College of Education, A Mighty Girl, Shelf Awareness, and many more.

Dusti currently lives in Eagar, Arizona with her husband, three daughters, and a bunch of farm animals.

Follow her on Twitter at @DustiBowling.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 936 reviews
Profile Image for Dusti Bowling.
Author 14 books972 followers
January 1, 2020
From my heart to yours. I don't think I've ever been more excited to share a story with the world.
October 4, 2020
Edgy. In more ways than one.
I'm not exactly the world's greatest fan of literary or poetic experiments but this one looks unexpectedly good. An emotional and fresh read where the most emotional parts are expressed as some sort of poetic endeavour. Or maybe it was an attempt to make the book longer? Or to express extra things via drawing with words? Or maybe both? Anyway, great stuff, full marks, ths experiment was definitely a succcess.
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone (on hiatus).
1,501 reviews201 followers
October 11, 2020

A wonderful verse novel about resilience and healing after a tragedy. I think this is going to be incredibly popular with younger teens in the library I work at and I will order three copies. It is quite an emotional story and the pacing is excellent. The author does a good job of foreshadowing the nature of the tragedy that has left Nora and her father with PTSD. Therefore the truth unfolds somewhat gently for the Reader which is entirely appropriate for this age group. I had a few tears at one point to be honest. I highly recommend for late middle school and early high school.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,341 reviews525 followers
September 3, 2020
This new novel in verse from Dusti Bowling was a heart-stopping survival story filled with peril and epiphany. As Eleanor struggles to unite with her father and find a way out of the canyon she ponders the advice of her therapist. There has already been a traumatic event in her past and she is stuck in the "after." Can she find the strength to push through to a new version of that "after" where there is life beyond the grieving? Surviving is filled with decisions and everything is harder than you think it will be. Eleanor embraces that reality and plods on. Anchored with prose on either end of the book, the verse portions tell the story in its glaring reality. I think this one is going to stay with me for quite some time. Hope to see it on the short list for the Newbery in 2021.

Thank you to Little, Brown Books and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for ✧ Emily ✧.
156 reviews111 followers
August 8, 2021
This was an intensely sensitive and heartbreaking book. It covered a lot of triggering topics, including shootings, grief, loss, and natural disasters, so beware of these if they are sensitive to you.

I felt for Nora so much. I am fortunate not to have been through the things she went through, but I still felt her grief and pain for her experience and for her losses. I wanted to hug her throughout the whole book. She seems to be an amazing role model for those who have been through similar experiences.

The pages of this book were beautifully formatted as well, and I really loved the cover, too! The illustrations and shaded pages brought the whole story together and I spent several minutes admiring them.

So thank you Dusti Bowling, a favorite author of mine, for using your great talent for writing to bring us this heartbreakingly beautiful story!
Profile Image for Zac.
180 reviews44 followers
August 11, 2020
Dusti Bowling just gets better and better. The Canyon’s Edge isn’t out until September (thanks to Edeilweiss+ for the eARC) but I know this will be one of my top books of 2020. I love verse novels because of the emotional power of this storytelling and Dusti’s story is perfectly suited for verse. The story is raw, gut-wrenching but ultimately full of hope. I devoured this book because I needed to know that Eleanor was going to be alright. Like Eleanor dying for water I was dying to get back to the story when I had to put it down. It is the kind of story that will grab all kids and I know it will make a fantastic read aloud for Years 7-9 (11-13 year olds). Eleanor faces so many challenges, and just when you think things can’t get any worse they do.

Eleanor and her father are emotionally scarred from a shooting that occurred a year ago, talking her mother’s life. Eleanor and her father have been hiding away from the world and not being able to move on. As a family they spent a lot of time in the desert and were experienced climbers. A year after the incident Eleanor and her father leave civilisation to trek a canyon in the middle of the desert. Things start fine but a flash flood in the canyon leaves Eleanor scrambling to escape the waters and her father washed away. Scraped, bruised and with no supplies Eleanor must brave the heat, the plants and wildlife of the canyon to try and find her father and get out alive.

If you haven’t discovered Dusti Bowling you need to read all of her other books before this releases in September.
Profile Image for Kathie.
Author 2 books66 followers
June 5, 2020
Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss+ for an eARC of this book.

This book is definitely one of those titles that will stick with me, and one that I will be booktalking as soon as I add it to my collection in September. I find there is a shortage of good outdoor adventure books, and I love not only the story but the format in which it was told.

Nora and her dad suffered a traumatic event, and life has been extremely different since that time. She and her dad go exploring in a canyon in an attempt to do something that feels familiar to them, when a flash flood separates them and leaves Nora stranded without supplies. She must face the elements and the danger that come along with the desert, while also fighting the Beast that haunts her nightmares, in an effort to save herself and her dad.

I really loved this survival story with high stakes, and both outward and inward elements against which Nora must fight. Part of the story is told in verse, so it moves quickly and the tension stays high. I would recommend this book to kids who like stories like Dog Driven by Terry Lynn Johnson or 96 Miles by J.L. Esplin, and will definitely be adding it to our collection as soon as it is released.
13 reviews8 followers
January 24, 2022
Kept getting worse,
More boring
You’ll feel better
When you put it down

Unburden yourself
Flip around the frown
Put it down! Put it

Such staged, melodramatic slime—
It’s not
Your time.
Profile Image for Laura Gardner.
1,670 reviews112 followers
October 12, 2020
File this one under heart-stopping adventure. 🧗‍♀️ .
Thank you to @dustibowling and @littlebrownyoungreaders for sharing this book with @Kidlitexchange; it comes out 9/8/20. Preorder now!
@dustibowling books are very popular in my library, as are novels in verse and survival stories. So when I discovered that this book hit the trifecta, I knew it would be awesome. .
One year after a tragic shooting that claimed her mother, Nora and her father set out on a climbing trip in the Arizona desert. Nora is frustrated that her father won’t let her go to school and wishes their life could go back to normal. Then a flash flood rips through the canyon out of nowhere, separating Nora from her father and all her supplies. Nora must dig deep to find the strength to survive and conquer her secret fears. .
Told first in prose and then in verse, THE CANYON’S EDGE will keep readers turning pages late into the night, desperate to find out what happens to Nora as she battles internal and external pressures. Intense!
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Profile Image for Ms. B.
2,900 reviews34 followers
November 6, 2021
. More sophisticated than other recent survival stories like Alone, 96 Miles, and Alone in the Woods as this one is a novel in verse about Eleanor who fights to stay alive after an earthquake occurs during a canyon climbing expedition. In addition, Eleanor is fighting her own personal demons .
Profile Image for Laura Janette.
95 reviews1 follower
December 26, 2020
This book was beautiful. I loved it.
Seriously, I’m not even sure what words to use.
Just read it.
Profile Image for Virginia Henderson.
Author 15 books67 followers
August 11, 2021
While in Utah I made a point of checking out this little bookstore. I wanted to find a fiction read with a lot of adventure, preferably taking place in the canyons and cliffs that I'd spent the last few days in complete awe of. No one creates landscapes like God! So I found this and was immediately intrigued. (Fun fact, story takes place in Arizona)

I eagerly bought it, along with a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing bookmark and dove in on the way back to the hotel and finished it in 2 days. What I didn't realize, was that this is written in verse. I didn't even know what that meant until now. I wasn't sure if I would like that style but it totally worked!

The rythm, flow, emotion and descriptions just made this story! I could literally feel for Nora and before the end I was rooting for her all the way. I felt her pain (physically and emotionally) her suffering and her fight for survival. Let me tell you, this wasn't just a story about fighting to stay alive in the desert. This was a fight to live, period. A fight to cope with PTSD. A fight to find the will to LIVE life again after the death of a close family member. The two themes worked amazing well together and really made me feel. And the ending-ah! It was a beautiful and touching ending with just enough closure. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes desert settings, survival stories, or just anything with a much needed happy ending

4.5 only due to very mild language right at the end. If you're considering checking this out, go for it! It was an extremely quick and easy read.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,063 reviews32 followers
April 3, 2020
Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own.

Dusti Bowling has done it again. I have loved her earlier works and was so, so, so excited to be able to get my hands on this one. I went into it with incredibly high expectations and she knocked it out of the park. The book, told in three parts, centers on Nora, a young girl who goes on a hike in a hidden canyon with her father. They go as a way to celebrate her birthday, which also happens to be the one year anniversary since her mother's death. Her mother was killed by a random shooter in a local restaurant, and ever since then, her father has decided that anything with other people is dangerous. That means no more school, no more friends, no more normal life. But they can still do this together, take adventures in the desert. But when a flash flood happens and they are separated in the canyon, Nora has to figure out if she can find the strength to continue on and keep fighting, even when there is little hope of survival.

Highly recommend. This is a first purchase type of book. Kids who like adventure/survival stories will definitely enjoy it. The second part of the book, which makes up the bulk of the story as Nora tries to survive, is told in verse, and it is done excellently. Recommended for grades 5-9.
Profile Image for Kate Olson.
2,191 reviews724 followers
August 9, 2021
Tense. Harrowing. Traumatic. Victorious. This upper middle grade book is mostly (but not all!) in verse and is a hell of a ride. It’s a heart-pounding survival story, but it’s also a story of PTSD after a shooting at a restaurant the year before when the main character’s mother was shot and killed. This is not a story for the faint of heart. It was almost too much for me ~ I avoid stories of mass shooters at all costs and the recollections within this book made me want to curl up and cry. However, the adventure / survival story was outstanding and I know there are middle schoolers out there who will adore this book. Maybe the ones I’ve met who, in HS, say that “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins is their favorite book ever and who tell me they detest happy books? They’ll love this.
Profile Image for Bonnie Grover.
783 reviews8 followers
May 15, 2020
“Facing fear is a skill that must be learned.” This book is a novel-in-verse about my favorite topic, survival. Nora is alone in the desert after her father is swept away in a flash flood. She is facing normal desert dangers: dehydration, snakes, ands scorpions. But, she’s also facing internal fears like the Beast who has haunted her dreams ever since her mother’s death, self-doubt and anxiety. Nora has to dig deep to find courage to save herself and find her father. Poetry is the best way to describe the deep, painful emotions that Nora deals with in this quick, fast-paced adventure. Take my word for it and preorder a copy for your reader and a friend.
Profile Image for Erin.
651 reviews20 followers
May 26, 2020
Wow - What a wild ride! Nora and her dad embark on an adventure exploring Arizona's slot canyons. Nora's mother died tragically the year before. While hiking, a flash flood slams through the canyon leaving Nora and her father separated. She will have to do whatever it takes to survive, including facing her inner fears and negative emotions. This novel in verse will leave you breathlessly turning the pages to find out how it ends.
Profile Image for Leigh Collazo.
665 reviews220 followers
January 23, 2021
What a gorgeous, heartbreaking novel! A fast-paced story of survival perfect for any upper-elementary or middle school library.

Trigger warnings: remembered gun violence, PTSD, thoughts of death and dying, blood
Profile Image for Steph.
4,475 reviews48 followers
July 1, 2020
‪“Living means feeling.”‬

‪Grateful to have read an early copy of The Canyon’s Edge, which releases this September! Read this in one sitting - kept on the “edge” of my seat the whole time. Yet another 5-star book by the incredibly talented 🌵Dusti Bowling! #PunIntended #mglit ‬
Profile Image for Theresa Grissom.
803 reviews22 followers
September 8, 2020
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Edelweiss+ for an ARC of this book.

Wow! My heart rate is still trying to come down after finishing this book. One of the best books I have read in a long time. Written mostly in verse, this did not take long to read. And, I could not put it down, too intense to take a break! The comparison of this book being a mix of Long Way Down with Hatchet is spot on. I can't imagine a student picking this up and NOT finishing. They will love this! Short chapters, absolutely fantastic plot, intense action-packed scenes... there are no lulls in this story. I will be purchasing multiple copies of this for my library. I will need it once students spread the word.
Profile Image for Cassie Thomas.
454 reviews16 followers
April 10, 2020
Nora’s grief is so real to me it almost hurt to read at times. Dusti captures the “after” of losing one parent so well, especially how the dynamic and relationship with the other changes so much.

This is an on the edge of your seat novel in verse that will have you turning pages so quick to figure out the plot - with rattlesnakes and the desert sun coming after you on every page.
1,790 reviews16 followers
May 27, 2020
Dusti Bowling has quickly become an author whose books I don't skip, and her latest does not disappoint. I was hooked from the start and this will be easy to booktalk and hand off to readers.
Profile Image for Heather.
653 reviews8 followers
July 13, 2020
Wow. The Canyon's Edge is Ellen Hopkins meets Hatchet (comparison credit to a fellow bookseller, Leah). It's incredibly gripping and I hope it gets the same acclaim as Hatchet has over the years. There are scenes that I know will stick with me long after this reading. Not only is the writing visceral, The Canyon's Edge is an incredible story of survival, coping with grief, dealing with the aftermath of a trauma, and handling PTSD, told through the eyes of a young girl. It's tense, but moving at the same time, and you will absolutely find yourself rooting for Nora as she fights for both hers and her dad's survival.
Profile Image for Rhonda Jenkins.
36 reviews3 followers
April 10, 2020
I was fortunate enough to win a NetGalley copy of this book from Dusti! Thank you!!
I downloaded it on April 8. I began reading it before I went to bed that evening and read about 8%. This small taste grabbed my attention. I picked it up again the next day around 11:00 pm. I couldn't put it down. I finished it two hours later!

The father-daughter relationship shows so much love. You know a tragedy had taken place in the past, but you never quite understood what it was until later. Even though Nora and her dad have an amazing relationship, Nora is missing a part of her life that she wants back. Anger comes out of both of them and she says something she regrets. But at that moment what seems like an earthquake or a stampede comes rushing in and separates Nora from her father. Nora is alone with no supplies in the desert. This fact will obviously impact her ability to survive the desert's nightly cold and its afternoon heat. She's got one goal in mind: she has to find her dad!

Then Part 2 begins. I found myself breathless reading it. I read quickly and slowed down when she did. I felt dizzy when the words on the page took on shapes and movement. I cringed when she was in pain. I feared for her when she encountered dangerous creatures. I came to understand why her internal monster crippled her ability to be freed from PTSD. I cried harder when Part 2 came to an end and I breathed in deeply.

Part 3 brought Nora to a door that will complete her healing.

I loved it! I loved the way it ended. This is a book that I will recommend to students constantly.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
563 reviews19 followers
September 23, 2020
Nora's therapist asks, "What do you fear?" (Dying.) and "Are you likely to die in this situation?" (Yes.)
It's been a year since Nora and her dad lost her mother in a violent, unprovoked event. Dad has been grieving by taking Nora out of school and avoiding people; Nora doesn't want to deal with the questions, either, and has pushed away her best friend in the process. After a year, it's time to start healing. Dad and Nora take the Jeep to the canyon's edge, where the family spent their lives climbing and hiking -- a favorite family activity. To move forward, Nora and Dad must come to understand why, avoiding the "what ifs" of this new life. Nora writes in her notebook to capture what was, and what might be in the future.

As the father/daughter team climb through the canyon, terrible things happen. When a flash flood smashes them and sweeps her father away, Nora is left alone to face the scorpions, snakes, and The Beast. Can she use what her therapist taught her (breathe, move, hope) to find her father again, or will the canyon take what is left of her family?

Dusti Bowling is a master of words in this gripping and suspenseful new middle-grade Southwest story. Students should study the character development, the writing of scenes, the figurative language, and the poetry (I love haiku, too!). Any reader who loves outdoor adventures will love this book. Published September 8, 2020.
Profile Image for Taylor.
301 reviews115 followers
September 9, 2020
[4.5/5] One year after her mother is killed by a random shooter, Nora and her father are still tormented by fear and anger. For her birthday, they take a rock climbing trip to a canyon in the Arizona desert. Their family has always been the adventurous sort: traveling, hiking and climbing, and learning about the natural world around them.

But when a flash flood in the canyon carries her father away, Nora must find the will to survive alone in the harsh climate of the unforgiving desert.

The Canyon's Edge is a quick read that packs an emotional punch. I read it in one sitting. In fact, I don't even remember coming up for air the entire time, it was so engrossing.

I loved the simple, lovely writing in this YA story. It's very poetic - which makes sense, since most of it's written in different forms of verse.

The desert setting was as brutal as it was beautiful. I couldn't help but root for Nora as she grappled with both inner turmoil (over the tragic loss of her mother) and exterior adversaries like poisonous snakes and dehydration.

So unique, raw, and gripping, The Canyon's Edge is well worth the read. Highly recommended, especially for fans of wilderness survival stories like Hatchet!

**Thanks to Little Brown Books for Young Readers for the gifted ARC
Profile Image for Robyn.
1,773 reviews118 followers
October 18, 2021
Dusti Bowling

A girl and her family out to celebrate the daughter's birthday are victims of a public shooting that results in her mother's death and injury to her father. The book is a stream of consciousness that I found often overly emotional and rambling thoughts. Nora, the daughter clearly has PTSD as does the father, and is in therapy for that but wants to get on with her life.

During the first outing, father and daughter climb down into a 40-foot canyon and are victims of a flash flood that separates them. This seems very symbolic to me, the flash flood, the separation, the fear of losing her only surviving parent, and the loss of her freedom and friends as she is isolated at home by a frightened parent who cannot cope. This fear-driven streaming tells the story of the shooting and everything that has happened until now. I also think searching for the father is about searching for her new, stronger life.

I, personally am not a fan of poetry and much of the story is told in that frame. Personally, it was a bit heavy for me and while I understand the intent of the book, I wasn't in love with it.

3 stars

Happy Reading!

Profile Image for A Lil' Bit Bookish.
161 reviews1 follower
May 1, 2020
Many thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with a free DRC in exchange for an honest review.

Nora and her father have been through a trauma that many can’t even imagine. Each of them are dealing with it in their own way. Nora wants everything to go back to the way it was before everything “changed”. However, she doesn’t want to face what happened, she just wants to move on. Her father keeps them away from everyone, Nora isn’t even allowed to attend school, this is the only way he feels he can keep them safe. Exploring canyons, mountain climbing has alway been something they loved to do as a family, now it is also a source of peace. As Nora and her father start exploring a new found slot canyon they are hit by a flash flood.

This heart pumping novel in verse had me on the edge of my seat. I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved this story. Nora’s grief felt so entirely real throughout the entire book. So many of our students love novels in verse as well as a fast paced story. I can’t wait to get this one on our shelves. I highly recommend this one.
Profile Image for M.L. Little.
Author 13 books44 followers
August 9, 2020
@kidlitexchange Partner: The Canyon’s Edge by @dustibowling. Releases 9.8.20 through @littlebrownyoungreaders. .
Ever since her mom was killed as a bystander in a shooting, Nora and her dad have avoided society. They were always adventurous and outdoorsy as a family, but now they spend their entire lives hiking, camping, and rappelling. Now that she is getting older, Nora begins to resent this lifestyle and wants to get back to normal and go to school again. Just as tensions between Nora and her dad reach a peak, they are swept apart in a flood, and Nora has to survive on her own and find her dad in the middle of a desolate canyon. .
I didn’t know this was a novel-in-verse, but it was a pleasant surprise. I love that style. Nora’s story is very engaging. Throughout her dangerous journey, Nora finds the bravery to use her words and her strength to move on from her family’s tragedy and rescue the part of her family that remains.
The Canyon’s Edge releases next month! Thank you @kidlitexchange for the review copy—all opinions are my own.
28 reviews
July 8, 2020
Nora is battling PTSD and grief from a devastating loss when a flash flood during a hiking trip threatens to take everything she has left. In order to survive she’ll have to fight the elements while contending with her personal monsters.

Bowling masterfully ties the power of unforgiving nature to the force of unrelenting emotions in this stunning book. I was torn between speeding through the pages to find out what was going to happen and savoring every perfectly placed word as Nora’s pain, guilt, grief, and strength poured off the page and into my heart. This book is wonderfully written and pieces of the story are doled out at just the right moment.

Like the flood in the book, this story sweeps you away and doesn’t let up until it’s over. I can’t wait to recommend this book to young readers.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 936 reviews

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