This is a multi-book review. These three pattern novels, restricted by length, employ interesting but underdeveloped plots and characters. Separated from his father and in new territory with a strong, single mother, a young man in each story meets an attractive girl, receives support from a stable older man, succeeds in an intercultural experience, and makes independent choices with positive results in relation to his father's character. The stories by Butcher and Fitch employ shock openings—a gory suicide, purple condoms—but authentic teen voices do not have the time to develop the characters' confrontations with complex problems. In The Hemingway Tradition, Butcher's protagonist fears that he is gay, as is his father, a talented writer and athlete. After a racial incident, Shaw writes in an editorial for the school paper, "P is for People-not Prejudice." He wins praise from peers and adults and accepts his father's homosexuality and perhaps his own. The reader, never seeing the article, is unable to judge Shaw's realization. In One More Step, Fitch's character deals with his dysfunctional biological parents and his "steps". Mom marries her third serious boyfriend. Dad has a new family and a drinking problem. With two brief and mild rebellions, the protagonist adjusts even though his grandfather, his stable father figure, dies unexpectedly. In Refuge Cove, Gregg rescues and hides boat refugees. The fearful family, because of an infatuation between Gregg and their daughter, trusts him. Immigration briefly takes Gregg's mother into custody, but both the government and the town support the family. Other novels such as Jean Ferris's Eight Seconds (Harcourt, 2000), Caroline Cooney's TheTerrorist (Scholastic, 1997) and David Klass's Home of the Braves (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2002) present more thought-provoking, realistic, and motivating treatments of similar issues. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P J S (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Orca Soundings/Orca, 92p,
Shaw grew up with the same skill and passion for writing as his famous author father; they had planned to write a book together. His dad's sudden suicide changed everything. Shaw is stunned to read of his father's homosexuality in his suicide note and shocked to read that his father felt that he could no longer live in the closet. Shaw questions how much of his relationship with his father had been "a lie." To soften the vivid memories, Shaw and his mom move from Vancouver to Winnipeg, where he wrestles with the bold descriptions written in his dad's journal. Shaw also tackles adjusting to a new high school, finding new friends, and moving on with his own life dreams. This well written, engaging, high interest book (large print and short length) realistically conveys the emotions of a high school boy. The author uses strong characters to allow Shaw to interact with social issues of high school, while at the same time, deal with the emotions of his dad's suicide. The subject matter and explicit description of suicide are appropriate for mature teenagers. 2002, Orca Soundings/Orca Book Publishers, Ages 16 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-After a summer of attempting to cope with his father's suicide, Shaw, 16, and his mother move cross-country to Winnipeg to begin a new life. He gets off to a good start when he becomes friendly with Jai Dhillon, fellow volleyball teammate, and Tess, a girl in his English class. Shaw's mother exhibits uncommon wisdom in allowing him the latitude to work through his feelings at his own pace. At the beginning of the book, Shaw is angry and confused, particularly when he learns that his father, a famous author, was gay; finally, he is able to channel his negative aggression into positive actions. At the urging of Tess, he begins to use his writing talent to publish articles for the school newspaper. This book portrays true, if sometimes raw, emotions, and Shaw's character growth is impressive and believable. Students who are forced to confront loss and grieving will find comfort in the fact that they are not alone.-Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Canadian Book Review Annual
"This novel is an exceptionally good choice for both male and female reluctant readers. Highly recommended."
"Pick it up - you'll be glad that you did!"
“The clear theme of the pain of prejudice for the victims, be it on the basis of race or sexual orientation, will appeal to today’s activist teens. It’s interesting to note that these themes could not have been addressed so directly only a few short years ago. Highly Recommended.”
Read an Excerpt
We had the top down on our old Le Baron and the sun was beating from a sky that was nothing but blue. It was my mom's turn to drive, so I was stretched out in the passenger seat, watching Saskatchewan slide by, thinking there must be a couple dozen different ways for a guy to kill himself.