Bear Boy: The True Story of a Boy, Two Bears, and the Fight to Be Free
- Justin Barker
July 31, 2021
Goodreads Book Blurb:
Bear Boy is a true-life coming-of-age story of two bears who inspire one boy to stand up for animals, question authority and discover the power of activism.
Justin is a typical teenager, dodging school bullies and waging an endless war with his parents. But when he discovers Ursula and Brutus-two sibling black bears being kept in horrific conditions at a nearby zoo-his life begins to change. He finds a cause that ignites his passion and an animal sanctuary willing to take the bears. But there’s a catch: he’ll have to cover the quarter-million-dollar cost.
Undaunted, Justin takes his seemingly insurmountable quest to an international audience, gaining media attention and support from celebrities. With television cameras rolling, Justin fights to free the bears, and it turns out himself.
Justin Barker’s surprising and moving YA memoir offers the optimism of the 1990s while exploring timely issues of activism, animal rights, and LGBTQ identity with tenderness, unblinking honesty, and heart.
***Thanks to NetGalley and Brutus & Ursula, LLC for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.
solid, good read:
Justin Barker is an engaging storyteller, and I think a lot of people would find Bear Boy empowering. A touching story of feeling misunderstood, finding yourself, and standing up for others; Barker is self-aware and open about his teenage years in a way that would allow many to relate.
As heartwarming as Barker’s story is, the details of animal abuse and neglect he witnesses are horrific. It’s incredible how much Barker was able to get done from an incredibly young age by being persistent and unwavering in his beliefs, and it’s a powerful lesson on fighting for what’s right.
For autobiographical narrative non-fiction, this was an effortless read. The writing isn’t elevated, but it’s very emotionally driven. I think this book would be a great fit for a teenager or pre-teen on the path to finding their voice and their place in the world.