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Emory's Gift

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After 13-year-old Charlie Hall’s mother dies and his father retreats into the silence of grief, Charlie finds himself drifting lost and alone through the brutal halls of junior high school.

But Charlie Hall is not entirely friendless.  In the woods behind his house, Charlie is saved from a mountain lion by a grizzly bear, thought to be extinct in northern Idaho. 

And this very unusual bear will change Charlie’s life forever.

Deeply moving, and interwoven with hope and joy, Emory’s Gift is not only heartwarming and charming coming of age story, but also a page-turning insightful look at how faith, trust, and unconditional love can heal a broken family and bridge the gaps that divide us.

359 pages, Hardcover

First published August 30, 2011

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About the author

I’ve always loved dogs, which puts me in a unique category along with what, maybe two or three billion people?

What’s not to love about an animal who will sit in your living room all day long, waiting for you to get home, and even if you need to work late and then stop for a stress-relieving beverage on your way home, when you unlock that front door, is absolutely overjoyed to see you? How could you not adore an animal who senses when your day is not going well and tries to cheer you up by dumping a sodden tennis ball in your lap?

I was probably 8 years old, playing in the back yard of our house in Prairie Village, KS, when my dad opened the gate and in rushed a 9-week-old Labrador puppy. I fell to my knees and spread my arms and that dog leaped into them as if we had loved each other our whole lives. It’s a scene that shows up in A Dog’s Purpose—a puppy and a boy meeting each other the very first time, both of them full of unrestrained joy.

We named the dog Cammie. She arrived in my life when I was just beginning to connect some of the dots in my memory to make a picture of who I was, forming my identity as a child. I remember every skinned knee and bicycle ride in the context of Cammie, who was always there for me. And I lost her just as I was starting to leave childhood behind, passing on after I’d spent a year in college. That’s Cammie, the dog of my childhood.

Years later I was riding my bicycle in the mountains outside of Pine, CO. A chance decision to bounce down a dirt road led me past a few scattered ranches and one small house near a creek, set back from the road at least 50 yards. A single “woof” from a dog caught my attention, and I braked and stood in the dry, clear air, regarding the dog who had called out to me.

She was on a chain by the house, and a fence stood between us, so I remained on the road even though I could see that the dog, a black lab mix with a crazily active tail, was clearly friendly. I gazed at her and the dog sat, attentive, staring into my eyes exactly the way my first dog, Cammie, used to look at me, really seeing into me.

And that’s when the thought hit me. What if this wonderful dog was Cammie? What if dogs live over and over again, and always remember us?

I dismissed the thought, waved at the dog, and rode away, but days later the idea came back to me. What if?

I’ve been a writer my whole life, but never have I ever written anything as important as A Dog’s Purpose.

I can’t promise you that A Dog’s Purpose will make you love your dog more—how could it do that? But I’ll tell you what a lot of people have told me: after reading A Dog’s Purpose, you’ll never look at your dog the same way again.

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5 stars
1,090 (36%)
4 stars
1,044 (35%)
3 stars
645 (21%)
2 stars
135 (4%)
1 star
34 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 467 reviews
Profile Image for jv poore.
609 reviews · 202 followers
February 2, 2012
As the 5 star rating indicates, I think this book is amazing. The central theme is about a 13 year old boy befriending a grizzly bear, only the bear (Emory) is more than an ordinary bear. Now, is that meant literally, or figuratively? Great question. The reader determines that.

The relationship that develops is bittersweet. Even in a novel, a grizzly bear just can't be a pet. As the impossibility of the situation becomes real, the friendship between boy and bear grows and blooms. This storyline alone would have made for a fabulous book, but there is more. Much more.

It quickly becomes apparent that the Boy is being raised by only one parent. Unfortunately, it appears that this parent is so enveloped in grief, that the Boy feels alone. We see the struggles of being in 8th grade at a junior high school that has 7th, 8th and 9th grade. Boys that were friendly last year have become bullies, with no apparent reason. Now instead of exchanging greetings, there are taunts and harsh words. What would jr. high be without the crush on the cute girl?

All of these are beautifully woven together around the central story of boy befriending bear, realizing that bear can't be pet, and the decisions that must be made. Oh, and the whole---is the bear more than a bear.

I devoured this book, laughing out loud a couple of times, crying alot! I will absolutely read more my Mr. Cameron.
Profile Image for Charlie.
10 reviews · 3 followers
September 11, 2011
This book is absolutely fantastic! I was a huge fan of "A Dog's Purpose," written by the same author, and I can say without reservation that this one is every bit as satisfying. I am always nervous when an author I like decides to go in a different direction like this, but "Emory's Gift" is proof in my eyes that this author has more stories to tell. Personally, I'll be reading W. Bruce Cameron novels as long as he writes them.

Truthfully, my opinion may be somewhat biased because I have recently begun helping to administer a facebook fanpage for ADP, but I think it just goes to show how wonderful this book really is.

As for this book, it was an unexpected treasure. It hooks you from word one, immediately interesting, keeping your interest throughout and leaves you yearning for more. It is the type of book that you'll contemplate re-reading the moment you finish. Like his last one, this book is a joy to read, the characters are very real and easy to connect with, and by the end you'll feel the way you do after a long vacation; it is refreshing and moving, you'll laugh and cry and you'll return to your life with a new and wonderful perspective. It reminds me of the books that first got me hooked on reading as a young man. Novels like "Ender's Game" and "Catcher in the Rye" come to mind. It takes a book of exceptionally high quality and readability to get someone reading at that time of life, and this one is of that caliber, without a doubt. I wish I had a young person to buy it for! Do yourself a favor and buy two copies of "Emory's Gift." One to keep for yourself and one to give away, you won't regret it.
Profile Image for Peggy Tibbetts.
7 books · 8 followers
March 6, 2012
“Emory’s Gift” is an extraordinary story about a boy and a grizzly bear. At age thirteen, Charlie Hall’s life is in shambles. He watched his mother die a long, slow death from cancer, his dad is depressed, and he dreads the eighth grade. Charlie finds refuge from the despair and embarrassment of his life in the natural world that surrounds their isolated property in northern Idaho. One day while trout fishing in the creek Charlie is stalked by a hungry mountain lion when a grizzly bear comes to his rescue and changes his life forever. Much about the peculiar bear is mysterious. For instance he has a name, Emory. Even so, the relationship between him and Charlie comes across as authentic. Emory allows Charlie to be near him as long as he respects his space and feeds him, otherwise he ignores him. For the most part, he behaves like a bear. But Emory is a grizzly bear, which creates all the utter mayhem and anxious suspense of a loaded gun as the story unfolds. At any moment, everyone – including Charlie – expects him to act like a grizzly bear.

Cameron’s witty and angst-ridden style reads easily and enticingly, like a memoir. Even though this is fiction, it contains a taste of magical realism so seductive it made me wish it was all true. The mystery of “Emory’s Gift” endures beyond the last page which makes this book destined to become a classic for all ages.
2 reviews
June 30, 2011
Fans of A Dog's Purpose may love this one even more! I was lucky enough to read the blockbuster "A Dog's Purpose" before it became a huge bestseller, and I guess now it's going to be movie from Dreamworks. Because of that, they let me read W. Bruce Cameron's newest novel early, and I have to say, though I'm a huge A Dog's Purpose fan, it's possible I loved this one even more. The unexpected plot twists kept me turning pages on this one long after I'd decided to put the book down for the night. I was swept up in the stories of the characters, who are all so realistically drawn I came to feel as if I knew them in real life. This is the story of a father and his son who grapple with the need to move on with their lives after the death of the woman who was holding the family together. A chance encounter with a grizzly bear changes everything-the boy and his father must save the bear, and, in so doing, learn to be a family again. Just as A Dog's Purpose was told in the voice of a real dog, Emory's Gift is told in the voice of a real 13-year-old-boy. His take on things is often hilarious (he seems to have a crush on just about every girl in his life) and yet rings utterly true when he faces the challenges of being an eighth grader, with all of its attendant social agonies.Bottom line: I laughed many times reading this beautifully written book, but also I cried tears of joy and recognition. This novel is an utter delight. Note: The spiritual themes in this book are even deeper and more profound than those in A Dog's Purpose. Cameron is one of the few novelists out there who isn't afraid to talk about big issues, God, the meaning of life, the nature of faith. It's courageous in a literary climate where the big trends are toward everything being depressing, and "dystopian." I like to read a book that uplifts me, and makes me think. Cameron keeps turning them out! This one will satisfy me until the sequel of A Dog's Purpose comes out...can't wait!
Profile Image for Jessica Kale.
10 reviews · 1 follower
September 16, 2011
As a person that utterly loved A Dog's Purpose...I even named my new dog, Ellie, after the Ellie in the book...I hate to write this but...I was really disappointed with this book. From the first chapter I felt the story was so terribly sad. Charlie's relationship with his dad...so sad. As the book went on I kept on waiting for something really interesting to happen with Emory...and I didn't feel it. Even at the end I was sort of..."that's it?" I wanted to really enjoy this book but it just didn't work for me.

But....on the positive side I was still captured by Cameron's writing style. And even though I didn't like the plot I still got a little teary eyed at the end. I wouldn't say this is a bad book, far from it, but it wasn't what I was expecting after A Dog's Purpose.
2 reviews
August 30, 2011
Got this on my Nook because I'm such a huge fan of this author, and I think I loved this book even more! As a Christian, I love books (like the Narnia series) that explore the topic of God's Love through the magical world of animals. A Dog's Purpose touched on that theme, but this book takes the idea further. This story reads like a true fable, and you come away thrilled, entertained, and yet comforted from a spiritual perspective. I hope others who review it will be careful not to do plot spoilers, as there are some twists in this book that are best left discovered during the read. Cameron is my new favorite author!
Profile Image for Laury Kerr.
26 reviews · 3 followers
June 6, 2015
I just LOVE this book so much. I read it in 2 days, it was funny, sad, and made you wonder. I really didn't want it to end.
Profile Image for Holly.
165 reviews · 16 followers
February 23, 2012
This is the second book of W. Bruce Cameron that I have read simultaneous to my 12 year old daughter's reading of the same book. We both loved A Dog's Purpose and worried that it would be a tough act to follow. This book did not disappoint. Both of us admitted to being reluctant to put the book down. Both of admitted that, on the same night, we had turned the lights off for the night and had to turn them back on -- to read just a little bit ore. Any reading that allows you to draw closer to your child and engage in great and meaningful conversation is wonderful enough in its own right. The fact that this story drew us both in made it even sweeter to savor.

This book revolves around a middle school age boy, Charlie, who had just lost his mother to cancer. As Charlie tries to come to terms with his tremendous loss he also struggles to find new footing with his father who is lost in his own pain and grief. In the midst of processing all of this Charlie befriends, of all things, a grizzly bear. The bear ends up being something well beyond the average and has come to deliver a message.

Both this book and A Dog's Purpose deal with the idea of reincarnation. I felt like this book did a nice job of balancing reincarnation with religious beliefs and it's led to some nice great discussions for my daughter and I. Even if you don't believe in reincarnation, I don't think it would draw from the magic that this story weaves.

A thoroughly enjoyable, quick, read. My daughter and I would not hesitate to read anything else Cameron might go on to write.
2 reviews
July 7, 2011
I was lucky enough to get a hold of an ARC of this amazing book. I was already a fan of A Dog's Purpose, and was nervous to read this because I wondered if I would like it as much as I had loved the other. I shouldn't have bothered to worry as this book is as good, and yet totally different from A Dog's Purpose. Mostly what I am left with is the spiritual profundity of this book's message. Not to plot spoil, but for me, this book is truly a Christian allegory, another way of seeing how messages of complete love and spiritual enlightenment can become complicated in this oh-so-flawed human world. Something about the purity of the animals that Cameron chooses to tell stories with and through helps these universal messages of love he conveys to shine through. And it's funny! And it's sweet...and it's so very romantic, in the kind of real-life flawed and awkward way that makes you believe these characters are as true and real as anyone you've ever met. I devoured this and can't wait for whatever this author has coming up next. I'm a huge fan and I am SO thrilled to have read this! More, Mr. Cameron, more!
Profile Image for Christine.
117 reviews · 3 followers
June 20, 2015
Another W. Bruce Cameron book that I couldn't put down! This is the story of Charlie, a 13 year old boy, and a grizzly bear with extraordinary abilities. In a change from A Dog's Purpose and A Dog's Journey, this story is narrated by the boy, not told from the animal's perspective.
Charlie has some problems in his life. He recently lost his mother, communication with his father is non-existent, and he has problems at school. Then he meets Emory, a grizzly bear with "special" skills. When Emory displayed his talent (which I will not reveal), I began to wonder what kind of book I was reading. Was this a book for adults, or perhaps a fable for young adult readers. When I finished the book I was convinced that it was for both. There was enough fantasy for the young and young at heart, but enough doubt cast to satisfy all "realists", or adults who don't believe in fairy tales. Did it really happen? Even Charlie questions if it did...
353 reviews
March 26, 2017
(Fiction Fantasy 2011) I borrowed this book from a friend a few months ago and took forever to get to it - my mistake! This book is delightful! "Thirteen-year-old Charlie's mother dies and his father retreats into silence." Set in 1974, northern Idaho, it is an amazing story of Charlie and his father coming to terms with the reality of death and the unreality of an amazing Grizzly Bear who helps him to find himself. To quote the cover, "not only a heartwarming and charming coming-of-age story, but also a page-turning, insightful look at how faith, trust and unconditional love can heal a broken family and bridge the gaps that divide us." There are definitely some quirks in the tale which I loved. Great story!
Profile Image for Mary.
881 reviews · 14 followers
October 19, 2011
A young boy named Charlie loses his mother to cancer. He and his dad tiptoe around each other at home, unsure how to relate to each other. One day in the woods, Charlie finds himself face to face with a great big grizzly bear . . . . Then a miracle happens. To read my full review, visit http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.act...
334 reviews · 34 followers
June 6, 2012
Rating: 3.5

Ah. The perils of middle school. But for thirteen year old Charlie, things are a little worse. He is by far the scrawniest 8th grader, and with no friends and his mother gone, he has nobody to guide him. That is until Emory, the grizzly that seems to be as unafraid of him as he is of it.

I did enjoy the story - I picked it up because of a friend, and was quite taken by Charlie's story. Rather than write one of my regular review, here is a scene that made me smile:

The phone didn't ring much in the house, so when it did and I went to answer it my father followed me and stood looking at me with a questioning look on his face.
I said hello and for a second there was no response, and then I heard Beth's voice.
I waved at my dad that the call was for me. He cocked his head, not leaving, curious who it was. I turned my back on him, the cord wrapping around my torso.
"I'm glad your phone got fixed." Beth was saying.
"Your phone. I'm glad they fixed it. That is why you haven't called me, because your telephone has been out of order, right?"
I found myself grinning. "Was I supposed to call you?"
"I don't know, Charlie, were you supposed to call me?"
"So anyway, I was checking to see if your phone was working. Bye, Charlie."
She disconnected. I stared at the phone in disbelief.
"Who was that?" my dad asked.
"Beth Shelburton."
"Oh-h-h," he replied, drawing the word out so I'd know he was jumping to all kinds of conclusions. I felt my face flushing.
"It's not what you think," I told him icily.
He nodded. "Okay."
"She was just checking to see if our phone was working."
That one puzzled him, too. "Okay," he said again, sounding less sure of himself.
That was Beth; she had the ability to confound even men as old as my dad.
I walked out of the kitchen as if the entire incident were behind me. I went out to the pole barn, but Emory was gone, probably out eating fifty acres of huckleberries. I scuffed my feet on the driveway a little and then went back into the house and asked my dad for the Shelburtons' phone number.
Her brother answered and then, with a taunt in his voice, called out to Beth, telling her it was a "boy" on the phone and making all sorts of irritating love noises in the background while she picked up the receiver. There was a short scuffling that ended in a muffled gasp - it sounded as if she had hit him in the head with something heavy.
"Hi, Beth."
"Hi. Who's calling please?"
"It's me, Charlie."
Charlie, what a nice surprise!"
She just had a talent for making me grin like an idiot.

Profile Image for Cathe Fein Olson.
4 books · 17 followers
October 10, 2011
13-year-old Charlie, still grieving the loss of his mother, is having a hard time dealing with his uncommunicative father and the trials of being an 8th grade outcast. While out in the woods, he is befriended by a tame Grizzly Bear who claims to be a reincarnated civil war soldier with a message. When Charlie shelters the bear in his barn, things spiral out of control.

There was a lot I liked about the book--I liked Charlie and his budding romance with 7th grader Beth; the book moved well and I was kept in suspense waiting to find out what would happen with the bear and what the message would be . . . but what downgraded my rating from a 4 to a 3 was the message itself.

The other things that bothered me was that I had no idea this was a religious book--and would have liked to know that upfront. I'm also still not clear who the intended audience of the book is. From the description, I thought the book would be a good one for my elementary school library, but after reading it, it seems written more for adults . . . especially the prologue. I may run it by one of my advanced reader sixth graders to get a reaction.
Profile Image for Brian.
1,646 reviews · 41 followers
August 15, 2011
This is a cute somewhat well written story. It's not the deepest plot, I'm not a huge fan of cute animal stories. However this was a pretty good one. A boy meets a bear who becomes his friend. The bear causes an uproar in the community. The boy also deals with his cold father who is dealing with the loss of his wife and the boys mother. I would recommend this for someone who enjoys books about animals and tear jerkers.
113 reviews · 1 follower
February 25, 2017

A whirlpool of vivid, wrenching emotions throws me into various truths as I release the last set held. This book will keep me conjecturing for many
many months.
Thank you.
Profile Image for Jenni DaVinCat.
381 reviews · 10 followers
April 22, 2019
I enjoyed this book. It's hard to describe, because it was exactly what I was expecting, but at the same time, had something different about it that I wasn't expecting. I've read A Dog's Journey and A Dog's Purpose and both had my in tears at numerous points. This book also hit me right in the feels, but in a different, and less heartbreaking sense. They were happier tears. Happy-closure tears.

As expected, this is a sentimental story dealing with a child and the animal he has bonded with. Resurrection is definitely a theme, as it was in the Dog series books. Although it sounds similar to the dog books, it's really not. It is and it isn't. Like I said, hard to explain. There is a bit more of a 'supernatural' feel to this book that caught me off guard and made me infinitely more interested.

I really enjoyed the development of the characters, for the most part. Many of the characters who had central focus were dealing with some difficult issues and seeing how they developed throughout this occurrence/miracle (depending on who's talking about it) was quite interesting. I didn't really care for Beth, Nichole or Yvonne, which is interesting to me because they are the 3 dominant female characters of the book. There was something that felt fake about their personalities, along with some sort of underlying wickedness. Maybe that has more to do with the author? Although his female characters in other books are just fine. I had to laugh at Yvonne most of the time. We've all known a Yvonne, whether male or female. That perpetually single person who tries WAY too hard and just doesn't take a hint when someone isn't interested.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read and was very touching. If you've ever read anything else by this author, the style and type of story will feel familiar but it does differ from his Dog series as well. I'm glad I read it.
Profile Image for Danigerous.
140 reviews · 74 followers
February 4, 2021
I nearly gave it 2 stars since at points I felt like skipping through pages, but there were some sweet parts there. I know it's probably supposed to be a middle-grade type of book, but still a bit more could've been done with the book. I can deal with the simplistic and naive parts since it was supposed to be told from the point of an eighth grader, who sounded more like a ten-year-old, but that's OK bearing in mind that Charlie went through some serious trauma. However, there were some loose ends there that never got tied up and made it feel as if it was pointless to even include them. All in all, his dog books are way better.
February 20, 2018
I read this book over the course of 2 weeks, as normally I do so in around a half a week. This book was long and slow, while it contained no full plots. They were all... Undecided. There just isn’t much I can say about this book. It didn’t stick with me like others.
Profile Image for Melanie.
478 reviews · 10 followers
July 14, 2019
I haven’t enjoyed or cried over a book in so long, but this was it. What a wonderful story. I picked this book because I love grizzly bears. This book does feature a bear, but it is such a wonderful, positive story. I will miss Emory in my world!
Profile Image for Sunshine Darby.
107 reviews · 1 follower
December 29, 2019
A page turner for sure; such a sweet story. The author does a nice job capturing the thoughts of a middle school boy. I loved this story and see that this author also wrote, A Dog's Purose which was turned into a movie.
Profile Image for Cheyanne.
59 reviews · 1 follower
September 1, 2021
It took a surprising turn in the middle. I read that part and I was like oh my gosh what just happened.
Profile Image for Beth.
754 reviews · 6 followers
January 19, 2020
I felt like I was reading a YA novel and the I realized that a 13 year old boy is telling the story. I don't want to spoil the story but it did go a bit differently than I expected making it a little harder to decide what shelves to assign it.
Bottom line: Emory had an important message.
Profile Image for Ellen.
28 reviews · 4 followers
September 12, 2017
I didn't want the story to end. W. Bruce Cameron spins a sensitive almost believable tale about an adolescent boy and a grizzly bear named Emory. Definitely a great adventure!
Profile Image for Victoria Ting.
14 reviews
May 23, 2013
I decided to read Emory’s Gift because I enjoyed two other dog books by W. Bruce Cameron. This novel did not disappoint me. Cameron’s style of writing is very unique and fluent, which makes me feel as if I understand every detail of the novel. Though this book seemed a little bit too ‘childish’ for my preference, I was still drawn into the book and felt engaged. I gave this book a 4 star rating because I felt it didn't have enough drama. Despite the fact that it dragged on and similar situations happened throughout the novel, I liked the story line and style of writing in this book.

This novel completes the ‘book with a male main character’ box. This is an interesting category because it suggests that a novel with a male main character is quite different to a novel with a female main character. I like this category because there many novels with a male main character, so it gives the reader a very wide range of books to read from.

A quote that I like from the novel was “The pain inside me felt exactly the same as when they told me my mother was gone for good. I’d never had a chance to tell her good-bye, tell her how much I would miss her. That’s what hurt, even now, even today I missed her so very much and I never got a chance to tell her. I could barely see through my tears, but I keep running.”
I like this quote because I found it very moving. The boy, Charlie, did not get the chance to say good-bye to the bear, Emory, who had been living in their barn. The fact that he felt the same way about this as when his mother passed away, gave me a saddened feeling. It made me feel sorry for Charlie because of what he had been through and what had happened to him.

Something new I learned from this book is courage. Charlie always persevered through all situations, tried something new and was different from other students. Because they knew that Emory was different from other bears, Charlie and his father disobeyed the law and took care of this bear in their barn. Through many tough situations, they never gave up on Emory. They did what they knew was right and in the end everything turned out. I think that it just takes a little courage to make a difference.

A character that interested me was McHenry. McHenry was a hunter with dogs that tracked down grizzlies. He would always shoot anything he wanted with no feelings. At one point in the book, it got to the point when he’d tracked Emory in the woods. Charlie, who had followed him to save Emory, attempted to kill him, thinking that nothing would stop McHenry from earning a kill. But Emory had saved McHenry from Charlie; Emory forgave McHenry. From then on, McHenry did everything he could to go against the police to save Emory. I think that McHenry was the most interesting character because his opinion of hunting had completely changed when a bear had saved his life. He tried his best to always be there for Emory, and in my opinion, that’s truly showed his appreciation. I believe that we should learn to forgive and be thankful for what others have done for us.
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