Sixteen-year-old Savannah Evans walks with a slight limp thanks to a gymnastics’ accident that dashed her Olympic dreams, but didn’t stop her from attending an adventure camp in Idaho. At Camp Arrowhead, she quickly befriends Jade Chang and Rico Cruz, but Conner Swift taunts Savi because of her injury.
When the four are teamed together for an overnight white-water river rafting adventure, Savi refuses to get in the same raft with Conner. Unfortunately, the director will not reassign her.
A fun expedition down the river turns into a nightmare when their raft slams into a huge rock and their adult guide disappears down the river.
Without their guide and desperately trying to steer an out-of-control raft, they pass the “last chance” marker and enter the larger rapids. With Jade pinned between the raft and a rock, and Rico clinging to a lifeline, Savi must cut the raft free.
When the four drag themselves out of the river, they’re bruised, beaten, lost, and twenty-five miles from camp. Because of late-night campfire tales of Vexel, a vicious animal that roams the nearby woods, Savi and the others are terrified.
Savi becomes the unlikely leader who tries to guide the group back to Camp Arrowhead. Limited supplies, injuries, and the constant threat of Vexel—who Savi fears is stalking them, complicate the harrowing return trip.
Readers will enjoy dramatic survival scenes and the group working together, solving problems, and learning to overcome adversity.
My name is Gary Rodriguez, and I live in California. I’m the president of LeaderMetrix Inc., a consulting company that specializes in senior-level executive coaching, organizational development, and conflict resolution.
Previously, I worked for eighteen years in the radio business as an executive where I spent several years as one of the original managers of Infinity Broadcasting.
Following a successful radio career I became the president of a non-profit organization for a season.
As a young man, I spent a tour of duty in the U.S. Army where I was recognized as the youngest Drill Instructor in the Army’s history at age 18 years. I was also awarded the Silver Star (the nation’s third highest award for valor) while serving in a combat zone.
Over the past few years, I’ve written three non-fiction books and then I decided to write a novel.
My first book, Purpose-Centered Public Speaking, was published in 2009 and was re-published this summer (2014). Then I wrote a companion workbook designed to help people implement the principles taught in my first book. Next, I wrote Overcoming The Fear Of Public Speaking. And this past year, I wrote my first novel, Escape Through The Wilderness.
Why I Choose to Write to Teen Readers
by Gary Rodriguez
Escape Through The Wilderness
Teens are a critical people group in our society. In many ways, they hold the keys to our nation’s future. During these formative years they are quietly forming their foundational beliefs, values, and character qualities. One of my goals in writing Escape Through The Wilderness was to inspire and entertain these impressionable and influential readers. I also wanted to write a book that could positively influence this generation and subtly point them toward God.
Books like Harry Potter, Vampire Diaries, and Hunger Games captivate the youth of today. These books are written far from a Christian worldview. I chose to insert a measure of biblical truth into this story without, in my opinion, making the book overtly Christian. I committed to keep the book one that everyone could enjoy no matter his or her religious persuasion.
In Escape Through The Wilderness I created a heroine (Savi Evans) that models faith, integrity, and sacrifice. In my opinion, these values and character qualities are not highlighted enough in today’s literature written to teen readers.
I wanted to write an entertaining and thrilling adventure story about a group of teens that exemplified some of the best, instead of the worst, character qualities in our society. Although each person in the story has their own personal struggles, they develop new perspectives and insights as the story progresses and as they get to know one another. Savi, Rico, Jade, and Conner are all from different parts of the country and unique in their own ways. But through a series of circumstances they are thrust into a situation that forces them to learn to get along, work together as a team, and deal with what looks like insurmountable obstacles in order to survive.
Each character has their own personal challenges that eventually surface exposing their struggles back at home. Now away at an adventure camp they find themselves stranded in the wildness twenty-five miles from Camp Arrowhead following a freak river rafting accident. Against all odds, they must survive the wild and make their way back to the camp.
In some ways, the story is an analogy about life and the challenges we all must learn to conquer. Throughout the story, Savi, Rico, Jade, and Conner demonstrate a positive example of both healthy personal and team development. In addition, they learn the value and importance of friendships when it comes to overcoming obstacles and opposition. My hope is that readers will see themselves in each of the characters portrayed in the story.
There is one more character I’ve not mentioned yet. His name is Luke, and he’s a very special part of the story. I can’t go into much detail about him, or I’d give the story away. But I know readers will find him a vital character in the story.
Escape through the Wilderness can offer teens currently facing difficult circumstances a degree of encouragement and show them examples of how others overcame their challenges. The book was written to encourage, instruct, entertain, and inspire young readers. But I’m gratified to discover that readers of all ages are enjoying this thrilling and inspiring story.
Thanks so much for allowing me the opportunity to talk about Escape Through The Wilderness. I sincerely hope your readers will find this book to be a valuable addition to their collection and a book that they will consider buying for a friend.
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