Although Gary Paulsen's book, Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood, is catalogued as juvenile biography, I thoroughly enjoyed it. My familiarity with the author was limited to my children's experience reading his books as elementary and junior high school students. One of my daughters found Hatchet, in particular, difficult to read due to its visceral descriptions of a plane crash and a young passenger's subsequent fight for survival.
Once I began reading Gone to the Woods, however, it became clear to me that Paulsen's themes of childhood loss and abandonment were rooted in his own tragic upbringing. With the exception of a short idyllic period living with a loving aunt and uncle in northern Minnesota and the influence of a sensitive and nurturing librarian as a teenager, Paulsen's life was a continual struggle to survive.
This biography will interest readers for it's historical detail and inspire them by it's ultimately redeeming conclusion.
Paulsen handles the gritty details of his life with discretion and tact, but I would recommend this book only for mature middle schoolers and above.