Ryan Chartrand

Cal Poly journalism lecturer Marvin Sosna’s new book “Brandon’s Trail” is not only a story about a young boy’s coming-of-age, but a wonderfully beautiful description of the Sierra Nevada mountain range as well.

The story focuses on 10-year-old Brandon, whose parents proposed a 212 mile trek into the Sierras along the John Muir Trail. He is skeptical at first, wondering how his 3-year-old sister Samantha would manage it.

But, as the plot unfolds, Brandon begins to understand that this was a journey meant to be shared with his family, regardless of how they finished it, or even whether they finished it, and it would bring them closer in the end. Having hiked several years of his life already, and most of them in the Sierras themselves, he relies on his perseverance to get him through the hard parts of the trail, and even teaches Samantha the ways of the trail along the way.

The book is written from Brandon’s perspective, complete with his journal entries interspersed throughout the chapters. In them, he writes about meadows, rocks, creeks and anything else he comes across on the day’s hike.

This is where the beauty of the Sierras comes in. Although the sentence structure is typical of a 10-year-old, the descriptions are crystal-clear; the details allow the reader to easily picture a rushing creek full from the spring runoff of melting snow or a landscape of rocks and boulders reminiscent of the moon’s surface.

The reader gets a sense that although Brandon’s writing style is typical of a young boy, his high intelligence is not. He describes navigating maps in ways that only a person with many years of experience in hiking would know-a person far beyond his ten years.

By the end of the book, the griping, whiny little boy is replaced by a more mature, proud young man who walks a little taller. His parents were right; this was a story-a “saga,” as his father called it-that he could tell his children someday, just like his father told him about his epic hikes in the Sierras.

Brandon’s contentment is perhaps the most striking aspect of this book. Today’s young boys are generally happiest when sitting in front of the television with a video game controller in their hand, content to waste hours upon hours with their eyes glued to the screen.

However, Brandon, after initially hating the idea of hiking 212 miles, is eventually perfectly happy to be putting one foot in front of the other out in the wilderness, enjoying his lungs filling with air. It could be expected of a boy who has spent a lot of time hiking, but nonetheless, it is refreshing.

This book is available at El Corral Bookstore, and is recommended to any nature buffs who are itching for a glimpse of the beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountain range from a rare perspective.

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