How to Write Animals – a review of Pax by Sarah Pennypacker

It was a book with a fox on the cover. It intrigued me, and reading the blurb I had some things to expect in what I thought was a wholesome tale.

My god was it so much more.

A boy and his fox, considered inseparable, are forced to separate as Peter leaves his fox Pax in some woods on the side of the road. Both must learn to survive from then on without each other. But as Peter learns of the war that will enter the forest he left Pax in, he runs away from his new abode to find him again.

Wow, this book was sad. From the very start. A very wholesome sad that warms you up a little bit, but sad nonetheless. There’s nothing that hits me harder than two people who care about each other and have such a deep connection fighting for their bond. And that was done so powerfully in this book. From the start, I repeat. How can a book be so powerful to do that to me?

I knew that this book took POVs from both the fox Pax and the boy Peter, but I was expecting one to be stronger than the other. They were both so valuable for such different reasons.

Pax’s POV I thought would be weak. To write about something non-humanoid on first pitch seems difficult, but what Pennypacker wrote was just plain mastery. It brought such emotion, curiosity and sentience to the fox without making it seem human in the slightest. It perfected the portrayal of animals through an animal’s point of view.

Peter, in the meantime, had the humanity to change people and interact with them in insightful and interesting ways. It wasn’t entirely what I expected from his arc, but I still liked the direction it took in the end. I think Peter’s arc really showcased the themes of the book as well of bonds and how they evolve with the people.

I will say that the ending felt too abrupt, but I heard there was a sequel to this. I am further intrigued and am ready to get teary again. I’m just hoping the two can spend more time together in the sequel.

Pax gets a score of 4.5/5. Sad and wholesome animals stories hit me right in the feels.

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