Literary Event of the Week: I Am Still Alive reading at University Book Store

If you're in the mood for an action-packed survival tale, Washington novelist Kate Marshall's I Am Still Alive should be at the top of your list. This is perfect summer reading: the story of a teen named Jess who struggles to survive, with the help of a dog, in the cold Canadian wilderness.

Alive is split into two interwoven narratives. The first is narrated by Jess, still reeling after her mom's accidental death, as she heads to an off-the-grid part of Canada to live with her reclusive dad. And the second is narrated by Jess after a catastrophe: her father is dead, his cabin is gone, and Jess has to figure out how to survive if she's going to get revenge.

This is fun, exciting stuff — and it's also great for young readers. The story unspools through the braided narrative, and readers can slowly piece together the climax of the book through context clues. Jess faces two distinct conflicts over the course of Alive: First, she has to learn to get along with her absentee dad and adjust to extreme rural life. And next, she must figure out how to keep the world from killing her.

Marshall clearly knows her nature. Even the cruelest parts of Alive will make you want to pack up the tent and head for the wilderness. Jess's indomitable spirit is contagious; she reminds readers that no problem is too great to overcome. All you need is brains, endurance, and a ferocious need for revenge.

University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., 634-3400,, 2 pm, free.