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The Bear

A Novel

Claire Cameron


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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (2/10/2014)
Paperback (2/10/2015)


A powerful suspense novel narrated by a young girl who must fend for herself and her little brother after a brutal bear attack.

While camping with her family on a remote island, five-year-old Anna awakes in the night to the sound of her mother screaming. A rogue black bear, three hundred pounds of fury, is attacking the family's campsite -- and pouncing on her parents as prey.

At her dying mother's faint urging, Anna manages to get her brother into the family's canoe and paddle away. But when the canoe runs aground on the edge of the woods, the sister and brother must battle hunger, the elements, and a wilderness alive with danger. Lost and completely alone, they find that their only hope resides in Anna's heartbreaking love for her family, and her struggle to be brave when nothing in her world seems safe anymore.

This is a story with a small narrator and a big heart. Cameron gracefully plumbs Anna's young perspective on family, responsibility, and hope, charting both a tragically premature loss of innocence and a startling evolution as Anna reasons through the impossible situations that confront her.

Lean and confident, and told in the innocent and honest voice of a five-year-old, The Bear is a transporting tale of loss -- but also a poignant and surprisingly funny adventure about love and the raw instincts that enable us to survive.

Praise For The Bear: A Novel

Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction


"A gripping survival thriller...Cameron unspools the adventure in Anna's twitchy voice, heightening the tension as the youngsters battle storms, cold, hunger and fear...But this agonizing odyssey of loss and being lost has humor...The book's anguished yet hopeful ending provides a touching terminus...This expertly crafted novel could do for camping what Jaws did for swimming."—Richard Eisenberg, People (4 out of 4 stars)

"A page turner...Like Emma Donoghue's Room...The Bear creates suspense out of the gap between what Anna knows and what the reader suspects...The story is laced with humor and moments of joy and triumph as well as fear and sorrow...So gripping that it is hard to put the novel down."—Margaret Quamme, Columbus Dispatch

"Read this book in one sitting...Taut and engrossing...Cameron proves masterly in the creation of a child's fractured world view, as familiar as it is unexpected, as observant as it is naive...Cameron's resonant plot and Anna's unforgettable voice add up to a novel destined to stay with you long after you've chewed through it."—Jared Bland, The Globe and Mail

"Visceral...Cameron reminds us how tenuous is our mastery of the natural world."—Christine Fischer Guy, The Millions

"A gut-wrenching trip through the Canadian wilderness with a 5-year-old as your guide, a roller coaster of emotions...Heart-wrenching...I had to force myself to slow down and not race through pages...Cameron does an exquisite job with Anna's story...Very engaging. Bittersweet, and lovely. If you liked the childlike voice of Room, you'll be captivated here."—Kelly Konrad, Chicago Now

"A vividly portrayed wilderness ordeal...all seen through the eyes of a child...Uplifting."—Publishers Weekly, "Pick of the Week"

"A slam-bang opening...Scary...Darkly funny...Touching...Harrowing but ultimately hopeful."—Kirkus Reviews

"Harrowing...A sort of youngster stream of consciousness...Touchingly voiced courageousness...From the conception to the execution, the book is an exploration of anguish from a child's point of view, shaded and shaped by Cameron."—Eloise Kinney, Booklist

"The concerns of the young narrator - being good, remaining brave when her parents and her teddy bear are gone, how annoying her brother is - are an engaging, focused lens through which to view events in the novel...This is a fast, compelling read for nature lovers."—Gwen Vredevoogd, Library Journal (Starred Review)

"An emotional tour de force. Claire Cameron's The Bear offers us an unforgettable child narrator who propels us through a story as unsettling as it is bone-chilling, and as suspenseful as it is moving."—Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me

"The Bear is a taut and touching story of how a child's love and denial become survival skills. Claire Cameron takes a fairytale situation of children pitted against the wilderness, removes the fairies, and adds a terrifying and ravenous bear. I devoured this wonderful new novel in one day."—Charlotte Rogan, author of the national bestseller The Lifeboat

"Claire Cameron has written a chilling, beautiful, voice-driven novel, one that will turn your blood cold, make you laugh, and remind you of all the ways you are human. Most importantly she honors the complexity of our relationship with nature, the ways we are humbled by it and tethered to it. A vivid, potent, and unforgettable novel."—Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise

"Claire Cameron plunges us in to the dark terrors of the wilderness. The Bear is a survival story that is heart-pounding and moving. I devoured this book."—Tanis Rideout, author of Above All Things

"The Bear faultlessly captures the wonder, bewilderment, fear and self-centeredness of five-year-old Anna, and beautifully balances the darkness of her tale with a hopeful, sensitively told back story and moments when she grasps her situation with just enough clarity to shoulder her burden."—Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls

"Thrilling and harrowing...I couldn't put this book down. And I must say that the ending was so right, I caught myself holding my breath. A remarkable novel."—Anthony De Sa, author of Kicking the Sky

"Harrowing suspense. The Bear is a survival thriller that is told from a child's-eye point-of-view, which is not only convincing but doubles the tension. A heartbreaking, white-knuckle read."—Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist

"The Bear is a harrowing and endlessly hopeful novel-an unforgettable hymn to the legacy of familial love. Claire Cameron is alive to mind of the child. Her assured evocation of soon-to-be-six-year-old Anna hits all the right notes: the connective web of association and analogy; the permeable skin between truth and story; the immersive experience of time. This is subtle magic-the transportive spell of a pitch-perfect narrative voice. We witness the unfolding of events through Anna's eyes while simultaneously watching over her small shoulder, hearts in our mouths. The Bear is no fable, gentle reader. A source of terror and lonely solace, Cameron's fur-clad villain threatens from without and from within. Like our unwilling heroine, we must be very, very brave."—Alissa York, author of Fauna

"A hauntingly beautiful novel about the unspoken bond between mothers and children."—Miriam Toews, author of A Complicated Kindness, The Flying Troutmans, and Irma Voth

Little, Brown and Company, 9780316230124, 240pp.

Publication Date: February 11, 2014

About the Author

Claire Cameron's novel, The Bear, became a #1 national bestseller in Canada and was long-listed for the 2014 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Her first novel, The Line Painter, was nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award for best crime first novel and won the Northern Lit Award from the Ontario Library Service.

Cameron's writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Globe & Mail, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Salon. She is a staff writer at The Millions and lives in Toronto with her husband and two sons.