Pax by Sara Pennypacker is the story of twelve-year-old Peter who find himself separated from his best friend and beloved companion, Pax, a fox he saved from certain death. As the war is on the horizon and Peter’s father must leave to fulfil his duties, Peter finds himself in an unknown and unpleasant environment alone, just as Pax finds himself in the middle of nature, having to learn how to become a “real” wild fox. Although separated, the two are united by a common feeling – heartbreak – and their desire to find each other. Thus, they both take matters into their own hands (or paws, depending on who we’re talking about) and go on an adventure.
I consider myself an animal lover and I have always had a fondness for foxes, which made me to pick up and read Pax. Although one might feel the novel is rather for middle graders, I found it a tearjerker as I have a weak spot for animal novels. The point of view alternates between Pax and Peter, which not only offers the reader an insight into their (separate) journeys and adventures, but opens up for a lot of conversation in regards to subjects such as wilderness, animal companionship (love that makes the impossible possible), perseverance and many more, which leads me to another aspect of the novel I enjoyed: the characters. For some reason I strongly and immediately bonded with Peter and I recognised my twelve-years-old hill-climbing, rock-collecting, animal-loving self in his character. Pax, on the other hand, is the protagonist through whose eyes Pennypacker depicts human conflict, war and its effects on the animal world and nature.
A truly wonderful story, Pax also emphasize more serious subjects: PTDS and loss of bodily limbs because of war. Disability is portrayed through the character of Vola, who is nothing but loveable woman who has been strongly affected by the horrors of the war, both physically and mentally. I found her development throughout the novel to be the most outstanding one, even more perfectly illustrated than the development of Peter and Pax. If given more thought, I think Vola might be one of my favourite female characters. Sara Pennypacker managed to bring into existence and bless her readers with a sensible novel that accurately illustrates mental health issues and physical disability. Despite de difficult subject approached, the novel is definitely a heart-warming tale of loyalty, devotion and companionship that one will remember for a long time after reading. While I avoided it knowing it would break my heart (and it did), I cannot recommend it enough and I cannot wait for the sequel to be published this year.
Author: Sara Pennypacker
Publication Date: 2018
Publisher: Grupul Editorial Art
Format: Hardcover|256 pages