Wilder Boys 1 Splashing through murky pools of rainwater by the side of the road, the mud-splattered school bus rumbled to a stop. With an eager leap, Jake and his younger brother, Taylor, rose from their seats.
“Last day of school tomorrow.” Taylor grinned at the bus driver as he reached the door. “What are you gonna do without us?”
Mr. Polanachek grunted. “I’m going to get some peace and quiet, that’s what!”
“Aw, admit it,” Taylor said. “You’re gonna miss us, aren’t ya?”
“Like I’d miss this ulcer you kids been givin’ me.”
Jake nudged his brother from behind. “Quit being a pain, Taylor. You’re making everyone late.”
Taylor laughed and hopped down the bus steps. “See ya tomorrow, Mr. Polanachek! Don’t forget to bring your ulcer with you!”
Jake jumped down beside him on the gravel-strewn side of the road. “Do you even know what an ulcer is, Taylor?”
Taylor ran his fingers through his wavy light brown hair and rolled his eyes up at Jake. At thirteen, Jake was only two years older than his brother, but that didn’t stop him acting like he was a know-it-all adult sometimes. However, before Taylor could answer, the boys heard a sharp high-pitched bark and saw a brown-and-white flash streaking toward them.
“Cody!” Taylor shouted, and squatted down to let the Jack Russell terrier leap into his arms. “How’s our boy?”
The dog squirmed happily in Taylor’s grasp and plastered slobber across his cheek.
Jake laughed. “He’s right on time!” Cody danced around the boys’ feet as if they’d been away for years, rather than a few hours. He always seemed to know the exact time they’d return from school.
As they did every day, the two brothers and Cody turned down a side street into their neighborhood, strolling home to check on their mom. Taylor happily splashed through puddles in the broken sidewalk and kicked a rock toward a peeling yellow fire hydrant that had been almost completely swallowed by weeds.
“I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of school!” Taylor exclaimed. “Man, I can’t wait. I’m just gonna sleep in, play baseball, and forget about homework. Hey! Maybe you and me can go fishin’?”
Jake raised an eyebrow at him. “Fishing?”
“Why not? Dad taught you, didn’t he? I mean, before he left?”
“Well, sort of, but we don’t have any gear.”
“We can get some.”
“How? Do you have money to buy fishing tackle?”
“Maybe Bull will get it for us.”
“Taylor, get real.” Jake huffed as the blast of a train whistle sounded from the freight yards down by the river. “When’s the last time Bull bought us anything?”
Taylor shrugged. “It was just an idea.”
Jake kept quiet. The truth was, thinking about summer made his stomach feel like it was filled with gravel. Even though his school wasn’t exactly a five-star academy, Jake loved going there every day. He often spent lunch period in the library, devouring books. He hung out mostly in the action-adventure section, but he would read almost anything else in the library too. School was the one place he didn’t have to worry about Mom or her psychotic boyfriend, Bull.
“Hey!” Taylor blurted, pulling Jake from his thoughts. “Check it out!”
JakTwo brothers will need all their wilderness skills to survive when they set off into the woods of Wyoming in search of their absent father.
Jake and Taylor Wilder have been taking care of themselves for a long time. Their father abandoned the family years ago, and their mother is too busy working and running interference between the boys and her boyfriend, Bull, to spend a lot of time with them. Thirteen-year-old Jake spends most of his time reading. He pours over his father’s journal, which is full of wilderness facts and survival tips. Eleven-year-old Taylor likes to be outside playing with their dog, Cody, or joking around with the other kids in the neighborhood.
But one night everything changes. The boys discover a dangerous secret that Bull is hiding.
And the next day, they come home from school to find their mother unconscious in an ambulance. Knowing they are no longer safe and with nowhere else to go, the Wilder Boys head off in search of their father. They only have his old letters and journal to help them, but they have to make it.
It’s a long journey from the suburbs of Pittsburgh to the wilderness of Wyoming; can the Wilder Boys find their father before Bull catches up with them?