September 14, 2016 • Cee • Reviews


The Courage Test by James Preller •  September 13, 2016 • Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan)
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Will has no choice. His father drags him along on a wilderness adventure in the footsteps of legendary explorers Lewis and Clark–whether he likes it or not. All the while, Will senses that something about this trip isn’t quite right.

Along the journey, Will meets fascinating strangers and experiences new thrills, including mountain cliffs, whitewater rapids, and a heart-hammering bear encounter.

It is a journey into the soul of America’s past, and the meaning of family in the future. In the end, Will must face his own, life-changing test of courage.

A father-and-son journey along the Lewis and Clark Trail–from Fort Mandan to the shining sea–offers readers a genre-bending blend of American history, thrilling action, and personal discovery.


I received this book for free from Macmillan for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First sentence: “My name is William Meriwether Miller. “

What better way for a father and a son to bond than to take the same journey that Lewis and Clark did? Well, it’s not what William Meriwether Miller wants to do. (Yes, he was named after the great Lewis and Clark.) He’d rather be home with his mom, playing in the All-Star baseball team, but yet, he is forced to go on a trip with his father.


  • Readers will learn all about Lewis and Clark’s journey across the United States.

The Courage Test incorporates a bit of American history into Will and his father’s journey, following the Lewis and Clark trail. Readers will get to know all about Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, the Nez Perce tribe, and what happened on the trail to the West. The history is told through Will’s journal entries and tidbits Will’s father would impart to him. Young readers will definitely be able to easily understand this.

  • Readers will get a taste of all the places the duo as well as the father and son visited.

From the White Cliffs of the Missouri to Bitterroot Range, places that Lewis and Clark have been to are visited by Will and his father. They do all types of outdoorsy stuff, reliving adventures that Lewis and Clark went through. They camp in the wild outdoors, ride in canoes, take in the beautiful sky, and so much more.

  • Will and his father spend a lot of time with each other.

Will and his father don’t spend a lot of time with each other since the divorce. Will’s very angry at his father, and does anything that will annoy his father into reacting like ignoring his father’s history lessons or reminding his father that he didn’t choose to go with him. He refuses to let his guard down when it comes to his dad. It’s not the best relationship, but this Lewis and Clark journey may change that.

  • Will and his father meet some interesting folks on the trail.

When a person travels across the country, they will meet different types of people on the trail. For Will and his father, they encounter a friend of Will’s father, a Native American, and a Mexican teenager and her dog, which I thought was quite odd because of the way they entered the story—they were dropped into the story in a way that was unnatural and awkward. I wanted their presence to serve a real purpose, but I didn’t feel like it did. (I guess the Mexican teenager and her dog could be an allusion to Sacagawea.) The way these two characters–who are distinctively not white—were described and treated made me a bit uncomfortable. Not good. 7

  • It’s very predictable. 

What a bummer. The Courage Test isn’t the most original Middle Grade story about a kid with divorced parents. It plays out exactly as readers think it will.

Should you read The Courage Test? Eh, maybe. The Courage Test does a good job of providing American History to young readers in a way that’s easy to read and accessible. Who wouldn’t want to read and learn about Lewis and Clark and their journey? (It also teaches readers what they can do in the event they encounter a bear.) However, it’s very predictable and has issues with how characters are portrayed .


One Response to “(ARC) REVIEW • The Lewis and Clark Father-Son Journey (The Courage Test by James Preller)”

  1. I wish books weren’t so predictable sometimes (although on occasion I need a solid predictable contemporary-like book). It seems interesting but slightly average. Thanks for sharing!

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