Here at Penguin Teen HQ, there are some books that we just CAN’T STOP talking about, even before we’ve finished reading. I Am Still Alive by Kate Marshall was absolutely one of those books.
A heart-wrenching yet empowering story of resilience, I Am Still Alive follows one girl, alone in the winter wilderness, struggling for survival. How’d she end up here? You’ll just have to keep reading to find out. Read a note from the author, then view the incredible cover! And don’t forget to add this one to your to-read shelf!
A note from the author:
I have always loved stories of survival. From Hatchet to The Martian to post-apocalyptic adventures, the struggle to stay alive in a world that seems designed to destroy you never fails to engage me. On one level, survival is a series of logistical decisions. Do you focus on building a fire, or finding food? Do you go fishing, or try your hand at hunting? Do you stay in one place, or go on the move to try to find resources?
It’s a bit like solving a puzzle—with extremely high stakes. I Am Still Alive started with my love of that kind of puzzle, working out the practical questions of how to endure in the face of a brutal environment. But practical questions are only half the equation. In the exact same circumstances, some people will survive. Some won’t. So I had to shift from asking how to survive in the wilderness to asking who would survive in the wilderness.
Writing Jess, I knew that I didn’t want her to be an expert. She doesn’t have the benefit of training or years of experience. But she’s a survivor. I had to decide what that means for her—what makes her so fierce, so determined, that she can face the winter and beat it? She’s lost her parents. She doesn’t have much waiting for her back home. But I decided early on that Jess didn’t need to survive for someone else. She survives for herself. Because she wants to live—not to live for someone, or something, but because she’s not done with living and she’s not anywhere near ready to give up.
I only had one problem at this point: I didn’t know how I could possibly give Jess a plan to get out of the wilderness. The only way back to civilization is with a plane, and she doesn’t exactly have a spare in her backpack. Once I thought about it, though, I realized I’d already answered the question—because I knew who Jess was. She’s fierce. She’s determined. She wouldn’t be content with mere survival. She wasn’t going to just face down the winter.
Because she wasn’t left to die in the wilderness by accident. She knows who’s responsible. She knows who took her father from her. She knows they’re coming back. So she’s going to take revenge. And she’s going to take their plane.
I Am Still Alive started as a problem to solve: how would a teenage girl survive in the wilderness alone? From there it grew into a story about determination, loss, love, and revenge.
And a really cool dog.
And now for the cover!
About I Am Still Alive:
Cheryl Strayed’s Wild meets The Revenant in this heart-pounding story of survival and revenge in the unforgiving wilderness.
Jess is alone. Her cabin has burned to the ground. She knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. But she is still alive—for now.
Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded.
With only her father’s dog for company, Jess must forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she’s stronger than she ever imagined.
Jess will survive. She has to. She knows who killed her father…and she wants revenge.