4 stars · fiction · young adult

Paintings from the Cave by Gary Paulsen

Paintings from the Cave

Author: Gary Paulsen

Pages [hardcover]: 160


Meet Jake who lives in a neighborhood controlled by street violence and fear. He meets a sculptor across the street, and his eyes are opened to another world.  Or Jojo,who’s closer to her three dogs than to her foster family. When Jojo tries to help another girl who needs a friend, the dogs know what to do.  Or Jamie, Erik, and Grandpa, who make up an unusual family.


I started this book thinking that the three novellas it contained would end up being so short that I wouldn’t be able to get much out of them. Never having read anything by this author before, I definitely underestimated him. Gary Paulsen carefully crafts three different worlds, all the realities of three children. These kids have known more hurt and heartache than most people have in a lifetime and shouldn’t have had to go through. But Paulsen doesn’t present them in a way that calls for immediate answers and absolute solutions, instead choosing to point out how little outsiders can understand what these people are going through. And unless we take the time to understand people who might not have all of the advantages we do, there’s no possible way for us to help them.

I was quickly immersed in all three stories, as Jake, Jojo, and Jamie all find different, unique ways of escape. It’s this little ray of hope in their lives, contrasted with the darkness that threatens to overshadow everything, that really drives the overall message home.

I hope that more people give this book a chance. It’s a very quick read, interesting and beautiful, that deserves to be at least considered by everyone. I say give it a chance, because you might be surprised (and enjoy) what you will find.

CAPTIVATING. 4/5 stars

One thought on “Paintings from the Cave by Gary Paulsen

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