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The Middle of Everywhere

The Middle of Everywhere

4.0 1
by Monique Polak

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Noah Thorpe is spending the school term in George River, in Quebec's Far North, where his dad is an English teacher in the Inuit community. Noah's not too keen about living in the middle of nowhere, but getting away from Montreal has one big advantage: he gets a break from the bully at his old school.

But Noah learns that problems have a way of following


Noah Thorpe is spending the school term in George River, in Quebec's Far North, where his dad is an English teacher in the Inuit community. Noah's not too keen about living in the middle of nowhere, but getting away from Montreal has one big advantage: he gets a break from the bully at his old school.

But Noah learns that problems have a way of following you—no matter how far you travel. To the Inuit kids, Noah is a qallunaaq—a southerner, someone ignorant of the customs of the North. Noah thinks the Inuit have a strange way of looking at the world, plus they eat raw meat and seal blubber. Most have never left George River—a town that doesn't even have its own doctor, let alone a McDonald's. But Noah's views change when he goes winter camping and realizes he will have to learn a few lessons from his Inuit buddies if he wants to make it home.

Editorial Reviews

Canadian Children's Book News
"A well-crafted, revealing look at Inuit culture…A memorable book - a very worthwhile and important read for youth who are open to learning about the lived experiences of others with much to teach."
"The harsh living conditions and culture of the Inuit abound. Yet, the actions, thoughts, and fears portrayed are of any typical 15-year-old boy who finds himself in an atypical setting…The commotion (storms, polar bears, and tragedy at camp) keeps our attention."
CM Magazine
"Useful for its discussion of Canada's Inuit culture and the history of oppression that accompanies it, as well as the effect of climate change on northern life. I highly recommend this book; it is engaging, entertaining and a pleasure to read."
Resource Links
"A powerful novel that blends the emotional insecurities of young teenage boys with their need to be strong...Polak delivers her tale with a simplicity and realism that brings the readers into the northern world."
The Alan Review
"Noah's greatest adventure is discovering that the middle of nowhere can be the beginning of something new."
NMRLS Youth Services Review
*no details*
Tacoma School District #10
"The story eloquently addresses coming of age, understanding different cultures, and the values of a young teen as he spends time with his father in a predominately Inuit culture."
The ALAN Review
"Noah's greatest adventure is discovering that the middle of nowhere can be the beginning of something new."
Children's Literature - Patrick Hunter
A young boy comes of age (just a little bit) during his first few weeks with his father in Quebec's Far Northern region. Noah Thorpe is spending a semester with his farther in George River. The town is beyond small in Noah's opinion. There are only a few flights a day to the next major city, and the views of the native Inuktitut are weird. They show no sympathy for Noah when his dog is hit by a truck; suggesting instead that he should have shot it. This coupled with the chest aching cold and incredibly short amount of daylight is going to make for one long semester. As Noah spends time with his classmates on a winter camping trip, however, he begins to see the Inuktitut ways are helpful for surviving in a place like George River. This is reinforced when he and his campmates have a showdown with a hungry polar bear. What I enjoyed most about this story was that the change in Noah was so infinitesimal that it made the story more real. Changes in our personality are often not large epiphanies where we shift dynamically 180 degrees from our previous positions. The changes come in increments. I also applaud Polak for creating a character who is not very likable at the beginning of the story. This makes you much more sympathetic to Noah when he does grow as a character at the end. This is a great book for boys or girls. It is good for use in writing, sociology, and even psychology classes or for those who are studying other cultures. Reviewer: Patrick Hunter
Kim Coyle
Noah's life is turned upside-down when his mother insists that he spend the school term with his father in George River, a small town in the far north of Quebec. Noah is trying to reconnect to his father and his roots, but he struggles with the fact that the town has no doctors, malls, or McDonald's. Most of all, Noah is one of a few Qullunaaq (strangers) among the Inuit people—a tribe that was badly mistreated by the Canadian government. Noah is slowly falling into the vast whiteness of the arctic tundra . . . that is, until he goes winter camping with some of his classmates. Noah's view of George River changes when he starts to understand the hardships the Inuit people have endured and the lessons they teach about surviving in the wild. Noah's greatest adventure is discovering that the middle of nowhere can be the beginning of something new. Reviewer: Kim Coyle
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Montreal seems a lifetime away from George River, Quebec, where Noah has come to stay with his divorced father, a high school teacher. The 15-year-old is skeptical about spending an entire school term in this forbidding environment located at the Arctic tree line and accessible only by plane, but is willing to pay the price for some "dad time." Earning disdain from the locals for jogging in below-freezing temperatures and causing his father's beloved dog to be hit by a truck, Noah has a lot to learn about living in Kangiqsualujjuaq. Worried that he has upset his father and unsettled by the suspicion that he may be in a relationship with the town nurse, Noah accepts an invitation to get away for a winter campout with some classmates and teachers. Here, his survival skills are put to the test as he fails to stomach the taste of raw fish and loses six-year-old Etua in a blizzard. After retrieving classmate Joseph's severed finger after an accident and fending off a polar bear, Noah begins to realize the tenuous nature of life and death here, as well as the strength of character needed to become accepted in this close-knit culture. Although the survival-adventure details will engage reluctant readers, the story has elements of romance when Noah strives to impress an Inuit classmate. Less complicated is Noah's relationship with his father, which remains fairly steadfast throughout. Add this to survival/adventure collections.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Noah's mom thinks he needs to spend some time with his father, who happens to live in the village of George River, in Quebec's Far North. The Arctic landscape, climate and culture are different from Montreal in ways both anticipated and surprising. Learning the ways of the Inuit and discovering the horrors perpetrated on the community by Qallunaat, as outsiders are called, begins in the school where his father teaches and continues on a winter camping trip with sled dogs, ice-fishing and a storm that brings white-out conditions to increase campers' isolation. A great deal of information about daily life and Inuit culture is packed into the recounting of a few days in the community. Beer, bullying and a hint of romance keep the first-person narrative in the typical 15-year-old realm. The conditions of life are harsh but not impossible, and the gradual rapprochement between Noah and his dad adds a nice counterpoint to Noah's reaction to this exotic world into which he not only arrives but that he discovers he admires. (Fiction. 12-16)

Product Details

Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)
660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Tarksalik is about forty feet ahead of me, running by the side of the road. I can tell she's got sled-dog blood in her from the way she runs: head high, legs taut.

The sun has just come up, and when it lands on Tarksalik, it looks like she's shining too. For the first time since I found out I'd be spending this term in Nunavik, in northern Quebec, getting reacquainted with my dad, I don't feel one hundred percent miserable. Right now, as I let the fresh cold air fill my lungs, I'd say I'm down to about eighty-five percent miserable.

Maybe, I think as I watch Tarksalik run, this visit won't turn out to be a total disaster. Maybe there's more to life than Montreal.

Meet the Author

Monique Polak has written many novels for young adults, including her historical novel, What World Is Left, which won the 2009 Québec Writers' Federation Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature. When not writing award-winning books, Monique Polak teaches English and Humanities at in Montréal, Québec, and also works as a freelance journalist. For more information, visit www.moniquepolak.com.

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The Middle of Everywhere 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Noah is headed to the edge of nowhere. He is going to spend some time with his father, who teaches at the Inuit school in George River located in northern Quebec. His mother thinks this will give him an opportunity to get to know the father he only hears from once a week by phone. Leaving his active life in Montreal to head into a snow-filled wilderness doesn't seem too thrilling. It doesn't take long for something to happen, though. On his first day in George River, Noah decides to brave the frigid temperatures and go for a run. He offers to take his father's dog along so the animal can get some much needed exercise. Just minutes into the run, a pickup truck races by and hits the dog, throwing the animal into the air. Noah watches in horror as the dog hits the ground and then lies in a pool of blood. With the help of one of his father's friends, they take the dog back to the apartment and are able to assess the damage. With care and rest, it appears the dog will survive. Noah's father insists that Noah get involved in the community as quickly as possible. He meets some of the locals at a storytelling event where he begins to see that fitting in will be a challenge. The Inuit people may be artful storytellers, but they are far from welcoming when it comes to the white man. Much of their history has been disrupted and damaged by the actions and interference of outsiders. Author Monique Polak was inspired to write THE MIDDLE OF EVERYWHERE after traveling in northern Quebec. As she shares Noah's experiences, she is able to clearly describe the vast, snow-filled area that at first looks bleak and barren to Noah, but later becomes a place he is beginning to appreciate. This book has an interesting mix of people, problems, action and adventure, as well as self-discovery. Readers get a glimpse into a part of the world most never experience.