The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list when it came out in 1980. The book also made its way, along with the rest of the series, to my mother’s bookshelf. When I discovered it as a young middle schooler sometime in the 90’s, I wasn’t allowed to read it. So I thought it was about time! This novel is still captivating, and its power comes from the meticulous, extensive research about ancient people groups that comes through so clearly in Auel’s prose. The writing is not particularly artful in craft, and I wouldn’t say that the book is without pacing problems, but it’s still an addicting (almost guilty) thrill for the modern reader. This book set my imagination on fire. It prompted me to do a bunch of research of my own on neanderthal people, their technologies, and their relationship with early humans. Also: holy cow was I emotionally invested in these characters! This book has that wonderful transportative effect that takes you into the adventure and makes you want to fight, love, and feel alongside the characters. If you missed The Clan of the Cave Bear the first time that it was a big deal, and you have any degree of fascination with a world where people hunted mammoth and lived in caves, do yourself a favor and take this ride with Ayla, Creb, Iza, Brun, and the celebrated Jean M. Auel.