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Sarah knows she doesn't belong with the rich snobs at her new school, but she certainly never intended to run away as thoroughly as she has. A rash decision to hop on an airboat with a local kid who knows the Everglades well and offers her an "off the map" tour has resulted in their being stuck (sans boat) days away from help, and with a baby duck Sarah rescued in tow. Andy's a little older than thirteen-year-old Sarah, and he is clearly more knowledgeable about the area, but both are terrified as they battle exhaustion, venomous snakes, and grueling weather. The [End Page 537] 'gators and mosquitoes are more annoyances than real risks, but they encounter plenty of life-threatening dangers while trekking for days through swampland, and both teens show heroism and undergo realistic breakdowns along the way. Initially stuck in protective shells (know-it-all, self-proclaimed redneck and uptight, loner city kid), Andy and Sarah both evolve slowly, growing closer and more honest with themselves and each other as they face challenges that help them gain some perspective on what is truly important in their own lives. The baby duck, saved after Sarah accidentally scares off the mother and kills the baby's sibling, presents a neat opportunity for Sarah to really connect with the beauty and fragility of the swamp in ways that Andy's lectures simply can't, and the eventual parting of girl and bird (the duck gets a new home after spending a few unhappy days in Sarah's bathroom) is genuinely touching. While this novel never quite heads into truly mortal danger, there are plenty of harrowing moments for survival and adventure fans.