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Three Songs for Courage

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In this powerful novel for mature readers, Maxine Trottier transports the reader to the summer of 1956, and the small town of Erie View, a haven for teenagers. Summer jobs are plentiful, and there’s always action on the beach or the main drag. Life is cool. But Erie View is a town of shifting layers. They drift by turns, scarcely touching, then jarring painfully: fathers and grandfathers try to adjust to quiet lives after an eternity of action overseas, women struggle to remake marriages and return to their ...

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Overview

In this powerful novel for mature readers, Maxine Trottier transports the reader to the summer of 1956, and the small town of Erie View, a haven for teenagers. Summer jobs are plentiful, and there’s always action on the beach or the main drag. Life is cool. But Erie View is a town of shifting layers. They drift by turns, scarcely touching, then jarring painfully: fathers and grandfathers try to adjust to quiet lives after an eternity of action overseas, women struggle to remake marriages and return to their kitchens, and teenagers with far too much freedom live the secret lives of youth.

This is sixteen-year-old Gordon Westley’s world. But it’s about to change once tragedy strikes his family and forces Gordon to explore the darkest, as well as the sweetest, side of human emotions.

Part mystery, part love story, acclaimed author Maxine Trottier weaves a spellbinding portrait of small-town Ontario dealing with its loss of innocence and coming of age in a changed world.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
For 16-year-old Gordon Westley the summer of 1956 is the summer he learns that revenge can be as seductive as love. The fortunate son of "old money," he lives on the north shore of Lake Erie, drives his own car, and comfortably hangs out with good friends. His summer starts off well. He has plenty of free time to devote to thinking about his new girlfriend, Mary Davidson, and to being with her at the drive-in, the movies, and even the beach at night. Gordon and his friends see themselves as wild but they are also "good boys;" while there is much talk about erections, and some petting, he and Mary are admirably restrained. Gordon also has a long-time enemy, Lancer Caldwell, who thinks Mary should be his. The violence escalates from petty vandalism to family tragedy, and Gordon, who had been consumed by passion for Mary, just as passionately seeks revenge. Gordon is saved from his murderous impulses by a World War I veteran, regrettably referred to as "Injun Joely," who knows what killing really means. This minor character plays a major role in Gordon's maturation and the plot resolution; it would be more convincing if readers knew why. On the other hand, this coming-of-age story is filled with authentic details of fifties music, food, and teen dating life. The family's reaction to tragedy is believable and the story will engage high school readers looking for historical fiction with realistic teen characters. 2006, Tundra Books, Ages 12 to 16.
—Kathleen Isaacs
VOYA
In a pre-Salk vaccine world, this reviewer watched her cousin learn to walk again with braces and crutches. In this well-crafted, thoughtful novel, Canadian Trottier shapes brothers, sixteen-year-old Gordon and younger Stan, a polio victim and character whose energy mirrors that cousin's. The setting is 1950s Lake Erie, and although hot cars, youth gangs, and ducktails prevail, world wars still haunt families. Gordon, with his car, Laker pals, and burgeoning hormones, confronts love, friendship, and tragedy during the summer of 1956. Gordon's nemesis, Lancer, provides action and proof of evil in the world. Although some of teen fiction today is superficial and sensational, this novel is not one of them. Complex characterization, meaningful symbolism, and ongoing suspense give readers a satisfying, thought-provoking experience. An omniscient point of view makes readers privy to thoughts of multiple characters, especially Gordon, who worries how his body responds in the presence of a special girl, who has "the sex talk" with his father in a boat on the lake, and who learns respect and patience. The '50s are known for conformity, but this novel is rare in its collection of people who confront temptation, fear, and grief in anything but stereotypical ways. Teen characters are center stage, but adults, too, are quite fully realized. From native wisdom to flatulence humor and from sexual assault to pigs in dresses, Trottier handles the serious with poignancy and lighter moments with flair. In a world of considerable beach-blanket fluff, this coming-of-age novel is rich, readable, and substantive. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal;Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Tundra, 325p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Patti Sylvester Spencer
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-It's the summer of 1956 in a small town on the shores of Lake Erie in Ontario, a pivotal time for 16-year-old Gordon Westley. His ride is polished, his girl is gorgeous, and his buddies are on hand for support against the town bully, Lancer Caldwell, and his two sidekicks. Jaunts to the movies and the beach, delivering groceries, hot dates, and doing chores at home are vividly portrayed with a mixture of witty dialogue and surprising metaphors. The adults around are distracted and drinking martinis, but lay down the rules, too, as the events teeter between humor and gut-wrenching tragedy. Injun Joely, who lives and works at the pool hall, develops as Gordon's mentor as the intensity of events increases. Some readers will appreciate the wit and enjoy the laughs, even as it is clearly telegraphed that pain and heartache are ahead. The expert pacing makes this standout historical fiction, especially for guys, as it starts by having Gordon trying to emulate Jimmy Dean in Rebel without a Cause and ends with the wisdom of the ages.-Carol A. Edwards, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"…by far [Trottier’s] best writing to date…"
The Toronto Star

Praise for Sister to the Wolf
:
"…engaging…. In addition to providing a rich historical background and vividly re-creating the sense of wilderness, Trottier has drawn her characters and their relationships in a fully satisfying manner. There is plenty of action and a sweet romance in the mix as well."
School Library Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887767456
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 4/28/2006
  • Pages: 328
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.92 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Maxine Trottier is a prolific writer of children’s picture books and historical fiction. Her Métis roots reach back to Fort Detroit in the mid-18th century. She was born in Michigan, then moved to Windsor in Canada. Maxine spent thirty-one years in classrooms guiding children towards literacy, and since then has written many books and won numerous awards. Maxine Trottier is the author of numerous acclaimed children’s books including The Tiny Kite of Eddie Wing (1996 CLA Book of the Year for Children) and Claire’s Gift which won the 2000 Mr. Christie’s Book Award. She has even had a day named in her honor: “Maxine Trottier Day” was declared on May 25, by the Michigan State Legislature to honor her work as a writer and educator. Maxine lives with her husband on the shores of Lake Erie.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 1, 2010

    one of the best books i've ever read.

    When I first started reading this book, I thought it was a bit slow. There wasn't a main conflict. However, once I started getting more and more into the story, I realized that this was one of the best books I've ever read..It had no central conflict, but it was so realistic. Like a teenage boys summer. It was truly about first loves. It made me cry and it made me laugh, and I would re-read this book ANY day. I would recommend it to ANYONE. I can honestly say, this was one of THE best books I have EVER read. Plus it has a very cute, original cover. I just down right loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2008

    A reviewer

    This book was AMAZING. it touched my heart for what deep emotions a young teenaged boy could recieve. i loved how the characters both fit together so perfectly. Gordon was a loving gentleman and not only that he respected the girl he loved. I'm telling you this book is rediculously GOOD. i hope you guys enjoyed it as much as i did. THANX MAXINE!

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