• Gone to the Woods

  • Surviving a Lost Childhood
  • By: Gary Paulsen
  • Narrated by: Dan Bittner
  • Length: 6 hrs and 45 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (161 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Dan Bittner flawlessly narrates this matchless memoir, which captures writer Gary Paulsen's bittersweet life. ... The sublime narration and satisfying conclusion contribute to a rewarding listening experience." (AudioFile magazine, Earphones Award winner)

A middle grade memoir from a living literary legend, giving listeners a new perspective on the origins of Gary Paulsen's famed survival stories.

His name is synonymous with high-stakes wilderness survival stories. Now, beloved author Gary Paulsen portrays a series of life-altering moments from his turbulent childhood as his own original survival story. If not for his summer escape from a shockingly neglectful Chicago upbringing to a North Woods homestead at age five, there never would have been a Hatchet. Without the encouragement of the librarian who handed him his first book at age 13, he may never have become a reader. And without his desperate teenage enlistment in the Army, he would not have discovered his true calling as a storyteller.

A moving and enthralling story of grit and growing up, Gone to the Woods is perfect for newcomers to the voice and lifelong fans alike, from the acclaimed author at his rawest and realest.  

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

©2021 Gary Paulsen (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

2021 Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year

2021 Parents Magazine Best Children's Books of the Year

2021 Shelf Awareness Best Books of the Year

2020 Minneapolis Star Tribune Holiday Book Recommendations

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

2021 NYTBR Notable Children's BOTY

What listeners say about Gone to the Woods

Average Customer Ratings
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A prize from Paulsen

I loved Paulsen’s narrative of his early life’s story. I was so glad that he was sent to stay with Eydie, and then so sorry to see him taken from there. I saw bits and pieces of his books in some of the experiences that followed for him. Sometimes I laughed out loud, and sometimes I cringed or wanted to cry for him. As a former school librarian, I treasured the chapters of the library and the librarian.
I would give this book to Paulsen fans, to kids who love hunting and fishing, to kids who live on farms, who don’t like school...and to adults who share good books with kids by talking them up. For younger audiences, there are a few rough situations and a few words that parents might object to. For all others, it is a book to enjoy and book talk. It’s a winner!

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loving it...

I'm really enjoying this book. It is my first Audible book. i promise it will not be my last.

4 people found this helpful

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Worth the wait !!!

Gary, you hit it outta the park, another great read (listen) and story !!

Love this book !!

4 people found this helpful

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Making a work of art out of one’s life

Of all the fiction this author has written, this autobiographical 3rd-person version of his life MOST buggers belief, is startling and uplifting in the extreme, so artfully captures the first-impression logic that builds out a child’s worldview. That this accomplishment results from the life it depicts is as unlikely as a ‘tornado whipping through a junkyard and leaving a Boeing 747 behind” [Richard Dawkins, I think]. The shape of this story of a youth brimming w misfortune, brutal disappointment, is made flawless by the beauty of the boy’s grit and gratitude for the razor-thin lucky break at the heart of the tale.

The narrator’s performance is flawless, but, after listening to a 45-min Paulsen interview when it was just released, I am left longing for author readings of this and his other major works, of which Night John has left perhaps the deepest imprint of awe.

3 people found this helpful

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Not for Middle grade students

This is a great story,, told by a premier storyteller.I am not certain that I would give this book to a 4th or 5th grade student because I find much of the story too gruesome.I want kids to remain kids for as long as possible. No need to expose them to man's inhumanity to his fellow man quite so soon.

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Mesmerizing Read

You follow the boy, amazed as he survives each encounter with life and suddenly you are at the end, wanting more and knowing it was a life you would not have survived.

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Must have been hungry

Some chapters described food. Made me hungry. Wondered if Gary was hungry too. Wish the book was about the woods and Manila. Would have loved to hear more on the Manila story.

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How moving can a story be!

Loved the beginning - laughing out loud every few minutes. The story is brought along nicely and ending as an adult with a kids heart. I see why it's a Texas Blue Bonnette this year. So enjoyable.

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A good life forged despite serious adversity

Gary Paulsen sadly passed away late in 2021 but he published this book in January of that same year, he had another book in the pipeline line just about to be published. Prior to the last year of his life
he had already written over 200 books, some of them absolute classic best sellers, survived a childhood of poverty and neglect, worked as a farmland, odd jobs man, a hunter, a circus hand, had learned how to survive alone in the wilderness, had a military career as a missile specialist attaining the rank of sergeant, bred sled dogs, raced in the Iditarod the world's toughest dog sled race, survived two plane crashes, married at least twice, raised kids from both marriages, not a bad innings for an 80+ year old. Somehow I feel something of that level of life force and determination and grit resonating throughout 'Gone to the Woods'. Gary Paulsen thank you.

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Love this book! Great Insight to Hatchet!

Such a revealing story that provides insight into how a boy became one of the greatest authors alive.
I can't say enough about how moved I have been by the unofficial autobiography of Gary Paulsen's dysfunctional upbringing, and how that upbringing plays into the creation of the much loved Hatchet series.

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