Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson's mother and father are divorced. His mom lives in the United States while his father lives in Canada. He is the only passenger on a small plane flying to visit his father for summer vacation in the Canadian wilderness when the pilot has a heart attack and dies.
All that can be seen in every direction is the endless green of the forest. The plane nosedives into a lake where Brian is able to swim free to the shore. Once on the sandy shore, he realizes that all he possesses is his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present.
More than a survival story, Hatchet is a tale of tough decisions. When all Brain has is the barest essentials, he discovers some stark and simple truths: Self-pity doesn't work. Despair doesn't work. And if Brian is to survive physically as well as mentally, he must find courage.