The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon vs The River By Maura Shire

Let's start of with a description of each book...

Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland was promised a moderate to difficult hike on the Appalachian Trail. Trisha was supposed to spend her Saturday with her older brother and mother, but when she wandered off to escape their constant fighting, things changed. She found herself straying further into the woods when suddenly she finds herself lost for good. Trisha envisions her favorite baseball player, Tom Gordon, by her side throughout her time in the woods. But, Tom Gordon isn't actually with her, so she must use her knowledge, bravery, and courage to navigate her way to safety.

The River is a follow up book from the Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Two years ago, thirteen year old Brian Robeson was stranded in the Canadian wilderness for 54 days and he survived. Government psychologist Derek Holtzer wants Brian to go back in the woods and teach him how he survived so that Brain's survival techniques can help astronauts and the military survive. During a horrific thunderstorm, Derek is struck by lighting and falls into a coma. Brian has to rely on a basic map to take Derek, by river, to safety.

The two books side by side.
Compare & Contrast


While the two books have the same general concept, there are many differences. Unlike Trisha who has no knowledge of survival, Brian has already survived in the wilderness for 54 days with only a hatchet. Trisha is only nine years old and has nothing but her day pack with her. Trisha had no intent to be lost in the woods, whereas Brain was asked to go back in the woods so a government phycologist can study him. Another major difference between these books is that Trisha is all alone except for her vision of Tom Gordon with her. For the first part of the book, Brian is accompanied by Derek, but he is as good as alone when Derek falls into a coma.


These two stories have the same general concept: children surviving in the wild. Brian is thirteen and Trisha is 9, an important factor that implies that neither of them are adults. The setting of the book is very similar as well. Trisha is lost near the Appalachian Trail in Maine, and Brian was positioned in the Canadian wilderness. These books also have an emotional similarity. As a reader, you are hoping that Brian and Trisha will survive and find their ways to safety.

Opinions & Recommendations

My Opinion

My opinion on each novel is slightly different. I personally enjoy stories about survival, so both books intrigued me. The writing style of each book was different. I personally liked the writing style of The River better because it was an easier read. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a little more difficult to read, but ends up being a great story. Something I loved about both books was the connection I had with the protagonists. The authors did a fantastic job of building each character's personality.

My Recommendation

If you liked The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, then you probably wouldn't like The River. Since there are so many differences and the writing style is different, I would not reccomend reading The River. I would, however, reccomend reading The Hatchet. It is much more similar to The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. The River also makes more sense if you have read The Hatchet beforehand.

Thanks for reading!

Created By
Maura Shire

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