Review by Jialiang Zhu
Pax is a novel about twelve-year-old Peter who adopts a fox cub and then is forced to release it into the wild. Thing is, Pax is not ready to be released. Nor is Peter ready to abandon his friend. Narrated interchangeably by Peter and Pax, the novel tells of their quests to find each other. It affirms the power of human-animal connection and how animals challenge us to be our best selves. Peter is ready for any sacrifice to make sure Pax is safe; the fox has the same feelings about Peter. No matter what other foxes say; no matter how desperate the situation is; no matter how sad it is to realize his boy may have abandoned him, Pax never stops waiting for his boy.
There are three reasons you should read this book: First, if you want to know how a fox thinks, behaves and lives, you should read it. The parts narrated by Pax are so compelling you will feel as if you were a fox lost in the wild. Second, if you want to know how deep the relationship between a boy and a fox can be, you should read it too. Peter and Pax develop their own private language of emotions, supporting each other through the loss of mothers, and they create a relationship that can only exist between two persons. They never give up on each other. Their dedication to each other is so moving and genuine, it will make you cry. Third, if you are curious about how a 12-year-old boy can travel 300 miles just to find the little fox, you should read it. The obstacles Peter overcomes on his way, and the support he finds from strangers who learn his story is nothing short of miraculous. The adventure is so real that it makes you feel part of it. Best of all, the book reminds us how care for each other, across the species line, empowers us to be the best versions of ourselves.
Pax, by Sara Pennypacker. (2019). HarperCollins, 304 pgs.
Jialiang wanted to be a wolf as a child, gave it up growing up, and rediscovered his wolf identity by taking the freshman seminar Cl 1908, “Children and Other Talking Animals”.