Out of Range

by Heidi Lang (Author)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Hatchet meets Raina Telgemeier's Sisters in this adventurous and heartfelt middle grade tale of three warring sisters who find themselves lost in the wilderness and must learn to trust each other if they want to survive.

Sisters Abby, Emma, and Ollie have gone from being best friends forever to mortal enemies.

Thanks to their months-long feud, they are sent to Camp Unplugged, a girls' camp deep in the heart of the Idaho mountains where they will go "back to nature"--which means no cell phones, no internet, and no communicating with the outside world. For two whole weeks. During that time, they had better learn to get along again, their parents tell them. Or else.

The sisters don't see any way they can ever forgive each other for what they've done, no matter how many hikes and campfire songs they're forced to participate in. But then disaster strikes, and they find themselves lost and alone in the wilderness. They will have to outrun a raging wildfire, make it through a turbulent river, escape bears and mountain lions and ticks. They don't have training, or food, or enough supplies. All they have is each other. And maybe, just maybe, it will be enough to survive.

Publishers Weekly

Lang's (the Whispering Pines series) smartly developed novel depicts a sibling feud that culminates in a high-adventure survival story. The present-day narrative finds 14-year-old Abby, 12-year-old Emma, and nine-year-old Ollie McBee, all presumed white, hiking through the wilderness at Camp Unplugged, where they've been sent to reconnect after months of tricks, betrayals, and shifting alliances following a cross-country move. The specifics of their conflict unfold in flashbacks that deftly rotate among the sisters' perspectives, which effectively convey each girl's personality and role in the family. As the oldest, Abby longs to strike out on her own socially, faking a love of running when she falls for her school's cross-country star. Shy middle child Emma struggles with catastrophic thinking and feels adrift in middle school--especially after Abby arranges a cruel public prank. Youngest child Ollie puts on a tough front but longs to lure Emma to her side, "Team Youngers." Soon lost and alone in the woods, the sisters encounter a raging river and a snarling bear alongside their need for one another. Lang packs a lot into the well-paced pages, weaving believable character growth into an enjoyable kids versus nature--and sister versus sister versus sister--tale. An author's note concludes. Ages 8-12. Agent: Jennifer Azantian, Azantian Literary. (June)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Lost in the woods, feuding sisters confront their deteriorating relationship while trying to survive.

The story opens with 14-year-old Abby, 12-year-old Emma, and 9-year-old Ollie on a disciplinary hike with their camp counselor. When the counselor leaves them to scout the trail, Abby decides to return to camp with Emma and Ollie reluctantly following. Soon lost, the presumably White sisters flee from a forest fire down to a river, where Emma falls in and is swept away and Ollie vanishes trying to follow her, leaving Abby on her own. In the ensuring hours, Emma nearly drowns, Ollie injures her ankle, and Abby encounters a bear. Their harrowing, sparring, lost-in-the-woods present-day drama alternates with critical backstory from each sister's perspective. A recent family relocation from California to Utah has left Abby friendless; after joining the cross country team, she abandons Emma. Equally displaced, Emma's hurt Abby has ditched her, while Ollie pretends to not mind moving but resents being ignored by both her sisters. Their feelings culminate in a series of cruel, humiliating pranks against one another. The artful movement of plot between past and present gradually reveals why they have been sent to camp together. In this story that blends nail-biting adventure with a relationship story, siblings learn through being physically lost and forced to face life-threatening danger that they can discover who they are and what really matters.

A realistic, riveting survival story. (author's note) (Fiction. 9-12)

—Kirkus Reviews "5/1/22"

Heidi Lang
Heidi Lang managed to stumble upon the two best jobs in the world: writing for kids and walking dogs. If she's not out on the trails surrounded by wagging tails and puppy kisses, she's probably hunched over her laptop working on her next book. She lives in northern California with her husband and two adventure-loving dogs, and she is the coauthor of the Mystic Cooking Chronicles and Whispering Pines series, and author of Out of Range. Find her on Twitter @HidLang or visit the website she shares with her writing partner at HeidiandKatiBooks.com.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
June 20, 2022

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