Pain & Wastings

Pain & Wastings

4.5 2
by Carrie Mac

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At fifteen, Ethan is on the fast track to nowhere. In and out of group homes and constantly in trouble, Ethan is fighting to find a sense of who he is. After breaking into an amusement park and being savaged by a police dog, he is befriended by a paramedic. Offered a choice of court or going on a ride-along in an ambulance, Ethan takes what he thinks is the easy way


At fifteen, Ethan is on the fast track to nowhere. In and out of group homes and constantly in trouble, Ethan is fighting to find a sense of who he is. After breaking into an amusement park and being savaged by a police dog, he is befriended by a paramedic. Offered a choice of court or going on a ride-along in an ambulance, Ethan takes what he thinks is the easy way out. On Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Ethan comes face to face with the horrific truth from his past and must learn to deal with where he came from—and where he is going.

Editorial Reviews

CM Magazine
"[A] captivating main character and excellently-paced plot. Highly Recommended."
Resource Links
"Any teens who are fans of gritty, realistic fiction will enjoy this short novel."
The Horn Book Guide
"Heavy topics of drug abuse, prostitution, and murder make this a gritty and gripping story."
South Western Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group
"The characters are believable and compelling. The plot moves at a fast pace. Moreover, the graphic descriptions of ambulance calls make this book an excellent suggestion for male reluctant readers."
Puget Sound Council
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BC Bookworld
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The Vancouver Sun
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AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.

This is the third novel that Canadian author Carrie Mac has written for the Orca series of high interest/low reading level books for young adults. “Pain and Wastings” is the nickname given the street corner of Main and Hastings. Like its name, the corner is known for the junkies, hookers and homeless who populate the downtown sector. Ethan Kirby lived in that area growing up; now he lives in a group home. But in a couple of days he will be sent to “juvie” for his part in a high-spirited prank that included jumping onto a sedan and breaking into a local amusement park. While resisting arrest, he is seriously wounded by a police dog and the paramedic who treats him suggests that she knows his past. More than the bite and the arrest, it is this bit of knowledge that sends him reeling. Ethan has carefully hidden away his life as the child of a junkie, his mother’s death and the horrific events surrounding it. Now Holly, the paramedic, is resurrecting the past and he is compelled to find out what she knows about his mother. Ethan is a troubled boy with a troubled background and Holly gives him a chance to find some peace. Readers will be drawn to Ethan as they follow him on his journey with Holly, literally riding along on paramedic calls, reliving moments with his mother and finally facing the horror that has haunted him. While a story of tough kids in a tough situation, this is also a story of hope and an unlikely friendship. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

Children's Literature - Rachel Geene
Ethan Kirby, sixteen-year-old orphan and ward of the state, lives in the Harbor House with ten other teenagers. He and his best friend Harvir decide to break into an amusement park and climb the Ferris wheel, but the cops catch them before Ethan can climb up. The policemen send Harvir to juvie, but they take Ethan back to the Harbor House. When Ethan's social worker arranges for him to go on four shifts as a ride-along helper in an ambulance, he meets Holly, one of the paramedics who tells him that she knew his mother. From then on, Ethan begins to remember parts of his past that he has tried so hard to forget. In the end, Ethan must decide whether to remember and begin to cope with his past, or to keep it locked inside and let it continue to inflict emotional damage. Throughout this story, Ethan makes a dramatic change by confronting his past and learning to deal with it. When we first meet Ethan, he has only ever told Harvir what happened to him, but by the end of the story, he has learned to talk through his problems and face up to them. Carrie Mac did an excellent job of creating a character whom readers can understand and with whom they can identify. As an emergency paramedic, Carrie Mac was able to give the reader an authentic look into the life of paramedics as well. Reviewer: Rachel Geene

Product Details

Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
Orca Soundings Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.40(d)
HL680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

"First dead person, kid?"John says as he pulls the ambulance into traffic.

I decide not to answer him, because I don't want to get into it. I eye Holly, but she's not answering for me. How much does she know?

Meet the Author

Carrie Mac's first novel The Beckoners won the Arthur Ellis YA Award, is a CLA Honour book. She is available for school and library presentations, and has been known to hold the interest of a couple hundred teens where others have failed. Maybe it's the tattoos. For more information, visit

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Pain & Wastings 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Ethan Mingus Kirby was born to a mother whose life became filled with heroine, poverty, and prostitution. They lived in the ghetto neighborhood at Main and Hastings, nicknamed Pain and Wastings. At the tender age of six, Ethan witnessed his mother's brutal murder. This short novel picks up after Ethan has spent years in numerous foster homes and developed a bitter attitude toward life in general. He has a run-in with the law and is given the choice of a five shift ride-along with the local paramedics or a stint in juvie. Ethan chooses the paramedic adventure, never dreaming that he will be reliving that horrible time in his past when his mother died. One of the high-interest, lower-reading level series by Orca Book Publishing, PAIN & WASTINGS is one young man's emotional journey into the past to deal with his demons. It is hoped that by doing so he can build a more successful future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pain & Wasting was intriguing and it made me feel like I was actually watching all of it happening. The way the author (Carrie Mac) put a lot of effort in making the characters believable. The way Ethan life was set up he lived in a foster home he was a rebel even though he tried to do the right thing. I loved the way the author included when Ethan actually seen his first dead person and he just stayed to himself even though he had a lot on his mind like a real teenager like myself would really enjoyed and I usually don’t like to read but this book made me want to keep reading and not put it down. The characters were good but I did not get the part when Ethan and his friend climb the tower his friend disappeared but Ethan got attacked by the police canine I did not really get that part but it was a great book in my opinion