“Survive!” by Peter DeLeo: The author gives a first-person account of how he crashed his bush plane in a forested area of the Sierra Nevada in late November 1994 and hobbled into a diner 30 miles away 12 days later. It’s an unbelievable mountain journey without maps, trails, food, shelter or proper clothing as DeLeo faces waist-deep snow drifts, freezing temperatures that plummeted at night, a blizzard, steep climbs and a bear — all with a shattered left ankle, a crumpled right shoulder, seven broken ribs, a torn-up right knee, a swollen-over left eye, frostbite and one working lung. Not exactly a Sunday stroll through the woods.
DeLeo delivers his tale in a matter-of-fact, present-tense form that allows the drama to build naturally as he resorts to eating bug-and-snow slushies and spending a night in a coffinlike hole scratched out beneath a fallen tree. A spiritual element also grows as the days slide by and DeLeo focuses on two friends awaiting rescue at the crash site and reflects on moments in life that prepared him for survival.
“Survive!” succeeds by integrating the daily adventure and DeLeo’s survival-guide actions with the desperate search by his family and the Civil Air Patrol. Selfless love is the common motivator, and you can’t help but cheer on everyone.
Rating: Borrow it. Reviewed by Michael Jacobs (originally appeared in USA TODAY)