Cover image for Brian's return / Gary Paulsen.
Brian's return / Gary Paulsen.
1st Ember ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Ember, 2012, c1999.
Physical Description:
115 p. ; 21 cm.
General Note:
Originally published: New York : Delacorte Press, c1999.
After having survived alone in the wilderness, Brian finds that he can no longer live in the city but must return to the place where he really belongs.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
PAU Paperback Junior Action Fiction
PAU Book Teen Collection

On Order



Brian returns to the wilderness to discover where he truly belongs in this follow-up to the award-winning classic Hatchet from three-time Newbery Honor-winning author Gary Paulsen!

As millions of readers of Hatchet , The River , and Brian's Winter know, Brian Robeson survived alone in the wilderness by finding solutions to extraordinary challenges. But now that's he's back to ordinary life, he can't make sense of high school life. He feels disconnected, more isolated than he did alone in the north woods. How can Brian discover his true path in life, and where he belongs? The answer is to return.

Gay Paulsen skillfully explores the meaning of belonging and purpose, and reminds us of a crucial rule of the wilderness: expect the unexpected.

"Bold, confident and persuasive." -- Publishers Weekly , Starred

"Paulsen bases many of his protagonist's experiences on his own, and the wilderness through which Brian moves is vividly observed." -- Kirkus Reviews , Starred

Read all the Hatchet Adventures!
Brian's Winter
The River
Brian's Return
Brian's Hunt

Author Notes

Gary Paulsen was born on May 17, 1939 in Minnesota. He was working as a satellite technician for an aerospace firm in California when he realized he wanted to be a writer. He left his job and spent the next year in Hollywood as a magazine proofreader. His first book, Special War, was published in 1966. He has written more than 175 books for young adults including Brian's Winter, Winterkill, Harris and Me, Woodsong, Winterdance, The Transall Saga, Soldier's Heart, This Side of Wild, and Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books. Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room are Newbery Honor Books. He was the recipient of the 1997 Margaret A. Edwards Award for his lifetime achievement in writing for young adults.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The appearance of yet another sequel to Hatchet may raise a few eyebrows, but Paulsen delivers a vigorous, stirring story that stands on its own merits. Whereas the previous continuations, The River and Brian's Winter, essentially offer more of the same survivalist thrills that have made Hatchet so popular, this novel goes further, posing a more profound question: How does someone go from living on the edge to polite membership in ordinary society? (Paulsen addresses the same theme, albeit more grimly, in his Civil War novel Soldier's Heart.) Here, Brian has returned to his mother's house and can barely reconcile the seemingly arbitrary demands of high school with the life-or-death challenges he surmounted during his months alone in the wilderness. With the aid of a counselor, Brian formulates what had been an almost instinctual, unacknowledged plan to revisit the bush, and this solo trip, not his interlude with his mother, marks the true "return" of the title. The few cliff-hangers are almost beside the point: the great adventure here is the embrace of the wild, the knowledge of life at its most elemental. Aside from its occasional use of YA conventions (e.g., the preternaturally sensitive counselor; jejune rhapsodies over the relevance of Shakespeare), this work is bold, confident and persuasive, its transcendental themes powerfully seductive. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

(Intermediate) This is Paulsen's third successor to Hatchet, but they can't be called a series, exactly, since the events in each sequel constitute independent and contradictory scenarios of What Happened Next. Here, Brian has come home and is sent for counseling for savagely attacking a bully: ""He was Brian back in the woods, Brian with the moose, Brian being attacked-Brian living because he was quick and focused and intent on staying alive-and Carl was the threat, the thing that had to be stopped, attacked."" The counselor-a genial, blind ex-cop-urges Brian to talk about his life in the woods, and approves of Brian's decision to return. Although this trip back sees less action than did the previous books, and Brian's meditations hobble the pace, readers will appreciate the precise inventorying of Brian's gear and the how-tos of wilderness survival. As ever, Paulsen's you-are-there precision of detail makes for an enjoyable hike. r.s. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Brian sat quietly, taken by a peace he had not known for a long time, and let the canoe drift forward along the lily pads. To his right was the shoreline of a small lake he had flown into an hour earlier. Around him was the lake itself, an almost circular body of water of approximately eighty acres surrounded by northern forest--pine, spruce, poplar and birch--and thick brush. It was late spring--June 3, to be exact--and the lake was teeming, crawling, buzzing and flying with life. Mosquitos and flies filled the air, swarming on him, and he smiled now, remembering his first horror at the small blood drinkers. In the middle of the canoe he had an old coffee can with some kindling inside it, and a bit of birchbark, and he lit them and dropped a handful of green poplar leaves on the tiny fire. Soon smoke billowed out and drifted back and forth across the canoe and the insects left him. He had repellant with him this time--along with nearly two hundred pounds of other gear--but he hated the smell of it and found it didn't work as well as a touch of smoke now and then. The blackflies and deerflies and horseflies ignored repellant completely--he swore they seemed to lick it off--but they hated the smoke and stayed well off the canoe. The relief gave him time to see the rest of the activity on the lake. He remained still, watching, listening. To his left rear he heard a beaver slap the water with its tail and dive--a warning at the intruder, at the strange smoking log holding the person. Brian smiled. He had come to know beaver for what they truly were--engineers, family-oriented home builders. He'd read that most of the cities in Europe were founded by beaver. That beaver had first felled the trees along the rivers and dammed them up. The rising water killed more trees and when the food was gone and the beaver had no more bark to chew they left. The dams eventually broke apart, and the water drained and left large clearings along the rivers where the beaver had cut down all the trees. Early man came along and started cities where the clearings lay. Cities like London and Paris were founded and settled first by beaver. In front and to the right he heard the heavier footsteps of a deer moving through the hazel brush. Probably a buck because he heard no smaller footsteps of a fawn. A buck with its antlers in velvet, more than likely, moving away from the smell of smoke from the canoe. A frog jumped from a lily pad six feet away and had barely entered the water when a northern pike took it with a slashing strike that tore the surface of the lake and flipped lily pads over to show their pale undersides. Somewhere a hawk screeeeeennn ed, and he looked for it but could not see it through the leaves of the trees around the lake. It would be hunting. Bringing home mice for a nest full of young. Looking for something to kill. No, Brian thought--not in that way. The hawk did not hunt to kill. It hunted to eat. Of course it had to kill to eat--along with all other carnivorous animals--but the killing was the means to bring food, not the end. Only man hunted for sport, or for trophies. It is the same with me as with the hawk, Brian felt. He turned the paddle edgeways, eased it forward silently and pulled back with an even stroke. I will kill to eat, or to defend myself. But for no other reason. In the past two years, except for the time with Derek on the river, in a kind of lonely agony he had tried to find things to read or watch that brought the woods to him. He missed the forest, the lakes, the wild as he thought of it, so much that at times he could not bear it. The guns-and-hunting magazines, the hunting and fishing videos on television sickened him. Men using high-velocity weapons to shoot deer or elk from so far away they could barely see them, or worse, blasting them from a blind or the back of a Jeep; baiting bear with pits full of rotten meat and shooting them with rifles that could stop a car; taking bass for sport or money in huge contests with fancy boats and electronic gear that located each fish individually. Sport, they called it. But they weren't hunting or fishing because they needed to; they were killing to kill, not eat, to prove some kind of worth, and he stopped reading the magazines and watching the videos. His survival in the wilderness had made him famous, in a small way, and some of the magazines interviewed him, as did some of the hunting and sporting shows on television, but they got it all wrong. Completely wrong. "Boy conquers savage wilderness!" some magazines said in the blurbs on the covers. "Learns to beat nature . . ." It wasn't that way. Had never been that way. Brian hadn't conquered anything. Nature had whipped him, not the other way around; had beaten him down and pounded the stupidity out of his brain until he had been forced to bend, forced to give, forced to learn to survive. He had learned the most important fact of all, and the one that is so hard for many to understand or believe: Man proposes, nature disposes. He hadn't conquered nature at all--he had become part of it. And it had become part of him, maybe all of him. And that, he thought as the canoe slid gently forward, had been exactly the problem. From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from Brian's Return by Gary Paulsen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.