365 Days to Alaska

Sometimes you have to leave home to find it.

A charming debut middle-grade novel about a girl from off-the-grid Alaska adjusting to suburban life.

Eleven-year-old Rigel Harman loves her life in off-the-grid Alaska. She hunts rabbits, takes correspondence classes through the mail, and plays dominoes with her family in their two-room cabin. She doesn't mind not having electricity or running water–instead, she's got tall trees, fresh streams, and endless sky.

But then her parents divorce, and Rigel and her sisters have to move with their mom to the Connecticut suburbs to live with a grandmother they’ve never met. Rigel hates it in Connecticut. It’s noisy, and crowded, and there’s no real nature. Her only hope is a secret pact that she made with her father: If she can stick it out in Connecticut for one year, he’ll bring her back home.

At first, surviving the year feels impossible. Middle school is nothing like the wilderness, and she doesn’t connect with anyone...until she befriends a crow living behind her school. And if this wild creature has made a life for itself in the suburbs, then, just maybe, Rigel can too.

365 Days to Alaska is a wise and funny debut novel about finding beauty, hope, and connection in the world no matter where you are–even Connecticut.

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Watchung Booksellers

The wonderful children's bookstore Books of Wonder has signed copies of 365 Days to Alaska that they can ship to you right away. Order one here.

Watchung Booksellers

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Junior Library Guild Selection

Banks Street Best Children's Books of the Year

CCBC Choices 2022

Colby Sharp's Awesome 2021 Books

A Mighty Girl's 2021 Books of the Year

91 Middle Grade Books to Read in 2021

Rigel herself–homesick for her old life, uncertain (and ambivalent) about how to navigate this new one–is sure to resonate with young, housebound readers. A likable, timely debut.
Kirkus Reviews

Carr's heartfelt debut features classic middle-school problems, like dodging mean kids, as well as Rigel's vivid feelings of displacement and deep love for nature. . . The ending is hopeful at all angles, satisfyingly wrapping up each little plot point. Hand this thoughtful novel to nature-loving readers who like character-driven stories about family.

Rigel is a sympathetic fish out of water, and the book is perceptively descriptive of her Alaskan life, the new changes that confuse her, and the difficulty of adjusting when it feels like it means losing part of your identity. . . This is a solid middle grades story with an unusual hook, and kids who have made their own adjustments will relate to Rigel.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Rigel is a fun character; she has a lot in common with average tweens trying to find their place in the world, but her experiences in Alaska may be an informative peek into different lifestyles. The story shows how a strong family structure and the willingness to ask for help can be keys to success; the book also depicts the school library as a sanctuary for students...This charming novel is recommended for realistic fiction fans who love nature and animals.
School Library Journal

365 Days to Alaska is an engaging middle-grade debut with a strong, memorable female protagonist. This is one of those books that feels timeless, heartfelt, and inspiring. If you enjoy realistic fiction that feels true to life, with feel-good family dynamics, including sisterhood, sweet grandparent relations and healthy middle-school friendships, this is an excellent choice. Again, I can't reiterate enough how useful it will be for kids whose parents are separating or divorcing as well as those who enjoy middle-grade books about animals. Highly recommend!
– Afoma Umesi, Reading Middle Grade

This [book] had a really good blend of realistic problems and unusual circumstances. I liked that Rigel wasn't happy about the things going on in her life, but made a plan to get through them...This is an impressive debut novel, and I will be VERY interested to see what else Ms. Carr writes.
Ms. Yingling Reads

We’re all learning to adapt these days, and Rigel's story underscores how difficult – and rewarding – navigating change can be. Hers is a story that will resonate with middle graders in any situation. Rigel is a character readers will not only understand but root for.
Cracking the Cover


365 Days to Alaska has been included in some lists of notable books!

Best Middle-Grade Books about Families (Big and Small)

Mr. Colby Sharp's Awesome 2021 Books


Kidlit411 Author Spotlight
How Cathy came to write for younger readers, her (mostly) long and winding road to publication, and the advice she would give her younger self.

Writers' Rumpus Interview
On inspiration, the writing process, and how Rigel chose her own name. (Or at least helped.)

Book Q&A with Deborah Kalb
About the magazine article that inspired 365 Days, the power of good research, and recipes for elk pot roast.

Success Story Spotlight with Cathy Carr
Cathy discusses the long road of writing, reading, and finding a creative community.

Cover Reveal for Author Cathy Carr
Do you love the cover for 365 Days to Alaska? If you would like to find out more about the cover and its creation by the amazing Maeve Norton, check out this interview.


Sara Crawford’s Find Creative Expression podcast
When a character is a gift, the pantser approach to writing, and why we create in the first place.

Rose Quinn podcast
We discuss the beauty of rural Alaska, the journey to landing a book deal, and what kind of writer Cathy is when she’s drafting.


Carly Heath talks to Cathy Carr about 365 Days to Alaska
Talking living off the grid, how publishing is like baseball, and fixing saggy middles.

Colby's Sharp's take on 365 Days to Alaska
Did you enjoy reading Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet? Then give 365 Days to Alaska a try.

Read with Val's review of 365 Days to Alaska
Okay, so a lot of adults like 365 Days to Alaska. But what does an actual middle-grade kid think of it? Find out here.


Interested in teaching 365 Days to Alaska in your classroom, or having a discussion about the book for a book club or library group? Teaching and reading guides are now available! Find out more here.

365 Days to Alaska Educators Guide

365 Days to Alaska Student Discussion Guide


Cathy Carr grew up in Wisconsin, where a steady supply of her dad’s stories about his Alaskan adventures sparked her interest in the forty-ninth state. A former copy editor, library clerk, and technical writer, she now lives in New Jersey with her family and writes fiction.