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My Side of the Mountain


Readability Age Range



Year Published

Book Review

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Plot Summary

Twelve-year-old Sam Gribley decides to run away from home in May 1959. He doesn’t dislike his large family, but he dislikes his dependency on them, and he believes he can build a good life for himself in the Catskill Mountains. Thanks to his avid reading, Sam is able to survive alone for many months in the wilderness, save the company of a few friendly strangers. Sam fishes in the stream and traps small animals and deer for food and supplies. He also builds a home in the trunk of a giant hemlock tree, and he trains a wild falcon as a pet. Eventually, Sam entertains visitors, including his father. Reporters and photographers uncover Sam’s story of survival after several months and come to the mountain to investigate the “wild boy.” Nearly a year into his adventure, Sam’s family joins him and decides to build a home on the land where he’s been living.

Christian Beliefs

When Sam wanders into town on a Sunday morning, he notes that most of the townspeople are in church. He talks briefly with a man named Aaron, who has come to the Catskills to be involved in Passover activities.

Other Belief Systems

Sam reminisces about Halloweens back home and even throws a Halloween “party” in which he puts out food for the local animals to enjoy. However, Sam’s party gets out of hand when some raccoons break into his winter food supply and a frightened skunk sprays him.

Authority Roles

Although Sam’s father says he is proud of his son, he doesn’t search for him for many months after Sam runs away. Even after Sam’s father finds Sam, he doesn’t take Sam home. Instead, he’s impressed by his son’s survival skills and says Sam’s mother won’t have to worry because Sam is eating well. After nearly a year, the family joins Sam. Only then do his parents decide he needs to be 18 before he can live on his own. Other adults, such as Miss Turner the librarian and Bando — a college English teacher who gets lost in the woods and lives with Sam for a short time — befriend Sam, but they make no effort to return him to his family.

Profanity & Violence

Heck and gosh each appear once. A mother falcon attacks Sam as he takes one of her babies from its nest.

Sexual Content


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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.