In this debut novel, a high school girl faces the pain, shame, and uncertainty that come with sexual abuse. With the passing of her mother, Kate Franklin’s life unravels at the seams as she loses the only emotional mooring in her family. Her dad shuts down completely, and her brother enlists in the army. Things start looking better when her dad is hired to coach at Beacon Prep, home of one of the best basketball teams in the state. In a blog of prose and poetry, Kate chronicles her new worlddating a basketball player, being caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, and discovering the perks the inner circle enjoys. Then Kate’s fragile life shatters once again when one of her boyfriend’s teammates assaults her at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The once welcoming community has betrayed Kate, her family is disintegrating, and she’s on her own to grapple with whether to stay quiet or speak out and expose a town’s hero and destroy her father’s career.
About the Author
Rachele Alpine is a high school English teacher and blogs at www.freckle-head.blogspot.com. She lives in Mentor, Ohio.
Read an Excerpt
By Rachele Alpine
Medallion Press, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Rachele Alpine
All rights reserved.
Today's Truth: You can't count on anyone but yourself.
Your dad will leave you when you are twelve.
He won't empty his closet or pack up his car like you see dads do in old after-school specials.
He won't move in with a lover closer to your age than his, an exercise buff who wakes him at the crack of dawn for morning runs and wears short skirts and drinks martinis in bars while texting her girlfriends on her cell phone.
He won't spend his life alone and rent a room in a seedy motel.
He won't invite you and your brother to spend Christmas with him in the tiny, dingy space with a sad-looking, tinsel-covered tree in the corner on a rickety table over a stained carpet.
In fact, he won't leave the house.
He will stay right inside with you and your brother. You will eat dinners together, sit in the same room watching TV, have conversations about everyday matters like the weather and the dwindling supply of food in the fridge. You will do mundane things, such as passing each other in the hall as you head to and from the bathroom and riding in the car together when he takes you to school. Each day will blend into the next.
But from your life, he will be gone.
Posted By: Your Present Self [Sunday, August 11, 12:36 PM]
* * *
My brother, Dad, and I do the majority of our communicating using Post-its. Whoever invented them must make a fortune from the three of us alone.
I'll find them stuck to the bathroom mirror reminding me that Dad "Won't be home until late" or on the kitchen counter with "Money for groceries."
If Brett and I need something signed or want permission to go somewhere, we'll leave notes in places we know our dad will see: the door to the garage, his coffee pot, the bathroom mirror, or his computer screen.
It's worked for us since Mom died. There have been only a few mix-ups when Post-its have fallen off and blown under tables or when one of us broke the regular routine and didn't walk past the spot where the note waited to be read.
But for the most part, we're able to communicate without really communicating. And in my household, nothing says family love more than a day without having to talk to each other. Dad thinks it's brilliant. I think it sucks.
The last Monday of the summer, I woke surprised to find a note stuck to my bathing suit asking, "Meet for dinner at 6 at Garland's Pizza?" When Brett finally dragged himself out of bed two hours later, he confirmed that he'd received the same message stuck to the bathroom mirror.
Garland's Pizza was a little ten-table place the three of us loved. It was only two blocks from our house, a quick solution when there wasn't anything else to eat. These days we ordered from there a lot, but it was always takeout. I couldn't remember the last time we ate in the restaurant together. Dinner at home didn't usually involve conversation. Dad would read the paper while my brother and I fought over the television remote.
I was surprised Dad wanted to meet us there, but I wasn't going to question it. Dad hardly ever spent time with Brett and me anymore. I practically had to tackle him to stay in a room with me for more than five minutes. He always claimed to have important things to do for work—stuff that involved hiding in his office all night, every night.
I spotted Dad as soon as I walked into the place. Even though I'd sat around and done nothing the whole day, I was the last to arrive. He was in the crowded restaurant at a small table. My brother slouched next to him, no doubt angry at having one of the last days of vacation interrupted. He wore his fatigue pants even though it was boiling outside. Brett practically lived in those lame pants.
People were everywhere. Families eating at tables covered in cheesy pizzas. Kids running around with their greasy fingers. Older siblings playing video games against the back wall. Babies wailing along with the music blasting from a jukebox that seemed to play only old Billy Joel songs. The place was such a dive, but that's why people loved it.
I pushed through the crowd and bumped into chairs shoved around tables. It was a major fire hazard, but everyone seemed willing to take the risk for the pizza here. Nabbing a place to sit at Garland's Pizza was a talent, and I was impressed Dad was able to do it.
I slid into an empty seat. "Hey." I picked up a menu and fanned myself. "I'm not late, am I?"
"You're fine. We haven't been here long. Brett already ordered a few pizzas: a cheese, a veggie, and a pepperoni. I figured you'd find something you like between the three of them."
I shrugged. "Sounds good." I pulled my brown hair into a ponytail. It was hot in the restaurant, and my hair was heavy on my neck.
The air conditioner chugged along, apparently wiped out from a full summer of work. Drops of sweat gathered in my bra, and I prayed I wouldn't sweat through my shirt and get nasty pit stains.
"How was your day?" Dad asked.
"Boring." I kept it short; he'd space out if I said much more. "What about yours?"
"Not bad. A lot of the team came to the gym today for a pickup game, and I got to see them shoot around a bit."
"Did any of them seem good? Or more importantly"—I leaned in—"were any of them hot?"
Before Dad could answer, Brett snorted. "I'm sure they loved having you there. Gives them a chance to kiss the new coach's ass."
Dad set down his drink and faced Brett, taking on that lecture look.
A waitress interrupted by setting down a pitcher of Coke and piling napkins and silverware on the table.
I filled my glass and watched the sides sweat. I put my wrists against the moisture, trying to cool down.
"Listen," Dad said, "I've got some important news for both of you."
Brett crossed his arms and focused on the ceiling.
"I've been talking with the principal, Mr. Drew, for a few days now. About not only basketball stuff but other things too. He and the rest of the administration think it would be a good idea for the two of you to become Beacon students."
"You want us to go to Beacon?" I asked. I didn't think enrolling was a possibility. The school was superexpensive. Tuition was probably more than Dad's salary. But maybe I was wrong, and after everything that happened the past year, I liked the idea of leaving behind the memories lingering at my high school.
Brett opened his mouth, but before he could speak, Dad started again.
"You'll be able to start the new school year there. It should be an easy transition."
I nodded, willing him to go on, but he paused.
Brett seized the opportunity. "You promised we didn't have to leave Olmstead High."
Dad sighed. "Brett, wouldn't you rather go to Beacon?"
"No, I wouldn't," he spat back.
A group at a nearby table turned to stare.
I focused on my menu and wished that for once in our lives we could have more than two minutes of peace before Brett and Dad were at each other's throats.
"Calm down," Dad said. "Think about what I'm saying."
"There's nothing to think about. You said I didn't have to go there."
I kicked Brett under the table, but he kicked me right back. I knew he wasn't about to give up. Brett had been picking fights with Dad since Mom died, and it seemed as if they all revolved around basketball. Or, more specifically, the time Dad spent with basketball instead of with us. Brett would never admit it, but I knew he felt as hurt as I did when Dad grabbed a late dinner with some of the coaches or spent the weekend taking one of his star players to a college offering an athletic scholarship. Now that he'd landed his new position, it was even worse. We hardly saw him all summer.
"You promised," Brett hissed.
More and more people turned to look at my family's show.
I slumped in my seat.
Dad probably figured dropping the news in a public place would lessen the chance of a full-blown confrontation. Buzz, wrong answer.
Brett pushed back his chair and nearly knocked down the waitress passing behind him while balancing a pizza.
"Brett, sit down. I need you to listen to me," Dad whispered.
Despite the scene, my stomach fluttered with nervous excitement. Beacon was amazing. I couldn't even begin to imagine what it would be like to go there.
"How can I calm down when you tell me a week before school starts that I won't be starting my senior year at Olmstead High? Instead, I have to go to school with a bunch of rich kids who look down on people like us because we don't go sailing on our daddies' boats or attend parties at country clubs guarded by iron gates. That's not who I am, so why the hell are you doing this?"
"Why? I'll tell you why," Dad shot back. "Because people are talking. They're wondering what the new coach finds so wrong with the school that he can't send his own kids to it."
I tried to catch Brett's eye and said, "Why do you have to be difficult? If you gave Beacon half a chance, you might find out it's not so bad."
Dad looked relieved.
Brett gave me a dirty look.
"Kate's right. I'm sure you'll like it there if you give it a shot."
I felt good, as if I'd done something right and Dad was proud of me.
"How about I tell them exactly what's wrong with the school and why your kids don't want to go there?" Brett said.
Dad wiped his forehead, shiny now with sweat, and tried to discreetly glance around the restaurant.
"Don't worry." Brett threw the sharp-edged words at him. "I don't think your face has been in enough papers yet for everyone here to recognize the new Beacon coach."
He spoke loud enough that anyone who didn't know probably knew now.
"Enough." Dad slammed a fist on the table.
I grabbed my glass as some pop splashed out.
"I get it," Brett continued. "This is about you. You and your position at your great big important private school. I may not be smart enough to score as high as the other kids on those fancy exams you have to take to get into Beacon, but I get it. I get it completely."
"Brett," Dad said, demanding a respect he had lost from Brett a long time before.
"You know," Brett said, "if Mom were still alive, she'd never expect me to do something like this." Brett marched away, winding through the obstacle course of happy families, and shoved open the door so hard it banged against the side of the building.
I turned to Dad to tell him how I felt about leaving Olmstead High to go to Beacon. "I know Brett's being his usual pain in the ass, but I really—"
"Not right now. The two of you really need to stop for a minute and think about what a great opportunity this is for you." Dad dug into a pocket, then pulled money out of his wallet and threw it on the table. "Can you take care of the bill? We'll talk about this later."
"Sure, whatever." I watched him leave through the same door Brett had stormed out of seconds before. This was so typical of Dad. He really hadn't listened to me, and I felt stupid for thinking maybe he would.
Transferring schools made sense, though. My old school was where Mom got sick and I sat worrying about her tests results instead of my own tests and homework. The halls of Olmstead High held friends who stopped acting normal around me, as if I were the sick one; classmates who stared at me, as if I were a freak for losing my mom; and teachers who would put a hand on my shoulder and tell me I could talk to them anytime about anything.
Brett might have been fighting to stay at Olmstead High, but I was ready to run from it. Dad didn't need to convince me. Starting my sophomore year at Beacon was one of the first things in a long time that actually felt right.
Excerpted from Canary by Rachele Alpine. Copyright © 2013 Rachele Alpine. Excerpted by permission of Medallion Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
"This is a captivating tale that addresses a lot of contemporary issues in a sensitive and thought-provoking way." —Nicki J. Markus, author, Day-Walker and Time Keepers
"A searing and tender portrait of the complexities of high school friendships, dating and privilege. Canary is a testament to the power of the hard-won truths." —Daisy Whitney, author, The Mockingbirds and When You Were Here
"Rachele Alpine's Canary sings the truth about what happens when we put our high school heroes on a pedestal and give them the power to act like villains." —Erin Jade Lange, author, Butter
"The subtle way Rachele Alpine addresses love, loss, popularity, and friendship makes this book a realistic and arresting read. For anyone who ever struggled with frenemies and fitting in, Canary is an important addition to contemporary YA discussions." —Jennifer Brown, author, Hate List
"Rachele is an author to watch, and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future!" —Trish Doller, author, Something Like Normal and Where the Stars Still Shine
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It’s hard to speak out when your told to be quite. When you are being bullied and manipulated left and right. Right before I started this book I prepared myself. But no matter how long I did that, my emotions soared with every turn of the page. Plot: This is about a girl who gets sexual assaulted and told to be quite by the person that is suppose to protect her. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of fury that continuously built up inside of me while I read this. Let me just be clear that this book is so emotional yet very vivid. The build up of hurt, the backstabbing of friends puts the reader in a vulnerable position to be taken away. Angst: Usually, I talk about the love interest but I felt like he didn’t deserve any merit in my mind. So I’ll talk about the whirlwind of emotions instead. Prepare to have your heart ripped out. I got angry with friends and parents. I got angry with school officials and so called “boyfriend” who wanted nothing more for her to be quite so that the basketball team can go to the championships! WTH!! Yeah, I’m done here before my keyboard catches on fire… Strength: One thing that Kate possesses is strength. She did her time, keeping quite but when she saw she couldn’t do it anymore she sang like a beautiful canary. When she thought she was alone, others came forward, singing with her. She sparked a revolution for other students and girls like her to come out. I adored this part. Kate strength to say the truth, to admit loudly what was done makes her a hero. Fact: 54% of sexual abuse case go unreported. Why? Because people hush the girls/boys up. They don’t want it to look bad or cause problems. *rolls eyes* What Kate did is amazing! If your up for an amazing tale of a true heroine, Canary is your story. A bittersweet tale that transpires true, hurtful acts, Canary is a powerful piece of work. If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual abuse there is hope. Visit: RAINN or Call: 1-800-656-HOPE It’s FREE.SAFE. & CONFIDENTIAL
When you see the title Canary you think of the bird right away. I thought of a beautiful bird living free until it is needed. Some people love Canaries and have them caged and some let them fly free in their homes. This is such a compelling story that I laughed and I cried but in the end I was very proud of the main character for stepping outside the box and doing what needed to be done. I have read several stories that have this subject matter in it and it has made me very angry but this one struck a cord with me because it could happen at any high school and what is even more sadder than that is it has. Kate finally has some peace of mind because her father has found a great job at a private prep school. She is dating the star basketball player and she is in love. She has new friends and has begun to enjoy her new life. But things are not always what they seem because Kate and her new friends are at a party when she is assaulted. With no one to go to and no where to go to Kate has to decide whether or not she will report the crime or not. Then when her father finds out what he does is so dam despicable I screamed at the book because I was royally pissed off! In the end Kate has to decide if her family is more important than herself. She will have to dig deep and wide and finds herself and do what is right for her and not the school and not the ball players and not her family. This is such a gripping and compelling story for all to read!
Canary was one of the book at the very top of my wish list and I was eagerly anticipating it's release. And Rachele Alphine does not disappoint. Meet the Frankins-A father who's crippled by the loss of his wife to a point that he's no longer emotionally present with his family. His new job as a basketball coach at the prestigious Beacon Prep may be nudge they needed to finally move forward. Or maybe not. Brett, Kate's older brother is grieving in his own way and trying to come to terms with his mother's death and the fact that his family's only way of communication is through post-it notes. The father-son relationship is definitely suffering. Kate Franklin, the protagonist is looking forward to a fresh start. Kate is adjusting relatively better to the changes than her brother thanks to all her new friends, her boyfriend on the basketball team and her new found popularity. “We're not his family, his team is.” Written in prose and verse and narrated by Kate Franklin, Canary tells you a story of love, loss, family, popularity and friendship. But most importantly, it's a story of a girl's battle against herself to become strong enough to make the right choice. The writing is simply compelling so the reader is left with no choice but to feel every emotion that Kate experiences. I absolutely loved the way Rachele incorporated blog posts along with first person narration because it gave so much insight into Kate's thoughts. “How loud do you have to yell until they hear you.” Kate, the protagonist wasn't particularly like-able but what makes Canary such a riveting read is that she was human-Completely and utterly human in her thoughts and actions. The 3-dimensional characters along with the realistic portrayal of Beacon Prep makes Canary a captivating read. “At first, it’s as if I have two faces. One I wear to school, around Jack, my friends, Dad, and one I have when I go home and am alone.” One of my favorite aspects of the book was Kate's relationship with her brother-Brett was a little more wary of Beacon Prep so he was very protective of his sister. Their sibling relationship added some great value to the story. Rachele's ability to tackle a heavy subject such as sexual assault is truly commendable. Kate's struggles convey a strong message and thanks to the Rachele's captivating writing the reader gets a poignant tale that leaves a mark. This gut-wrenching story of one girl's story struggle to accept and tell the truth is an unique and thought-provoking read for fans of Ellen Hopkins, Sarah Dessen and Laurie Halse Anderson. I cannot recommend this amazing debut enough. **A huge thank you to Medallion Press for a review copy of Canary.
This book was a hearting stopping jaw dropping book. This book had me in tears. Best book i have read. I recomend it to everyone. The strength and courage she has is insperational. Please read this book.
Canary tells a hard story exactly how it is. There is no build up to an event like assault, it creeps into your life unknowingly and steals a part of you. Kate Franklin's life is exactly how she wants it to be. She is going to a new school where her mother's death doesn't follow her around every corner, and she has great new friends and a boyfriend on the basketball team. From afar, it seems perfect, but up close she's breaking. Her dad cares more about the basketball team he coaches than her, and her brother is struggling on his own and there is no way for her to help him. To Kate, it's just hardships that come with high school. She would never expect someone to take advantage of her, and she could never expect what happens after. What I think I loved most about this book is that I knew going into it that Kate is assaulted at a party, but there is no telling when that is going to happen in the book. Just as it is in real life, everything seemed perfect until it happened and suddenly nothing was the same. The assault is one of the main themes in the book, but it does not own this novel. Kate's life as she's trying to put the pieces back together after her mother's death fill the pages with hopes, fears, and open honesty. Kate writes for a blog which breaks up the scenes quietly yet dramatically, giving us a deeper look into her mind. She experiences many things for the first time, not all good, and I quickly fell in love with her voice and her pain. By the time the assault happened, I knew so much about Kate, yet I wasn't sure if she would be able to do what she had to do. Every character stood out to me. I disliked every character at least once in the book, making each of them feel real. People make mistakes, people take the wrong sides, and if that doesn't happen in a book than it doesn't feel right. Kate is by far not perfect, neither is her perfect coach of a dad or her star athlete boyfriend. What matters is how you fix what you've done or how you reacted that makes you a good person. Privilege is a key factor in this book. Most of the characters make the mistake of thinking they are entitled to what they do, including the assault. It's easy not to see what's happening or to ignore it just because athletes are involved. It's a telling tale of what happens when we put the popular kids on pedestals and allow them to do whatever they please. Canary shows the hard truth about popularity, high school, and most of all, privilege. I was rooting for Kate the whole time and I couldn't be happier with the ending if I tried. It was a nice change from what I'm used too in YA and I think it was needed. Subjects like this can be hard to master. There is a fine line between getting it right and going overboard. Alpine told what she needed to tell and left it at that. It was simple, clear, and heartbreaking. I have not been assaulted, nor have I known anyone who has been, but I know how I act when I read or watch it being portrayed. Canary captures the fear, guilt, and aftermath like a real victim, the weight of the act baring down on Kate. There are a lot of books about rape and assault, but this one stands on its own. Kate does not back down and I think that's an important lesson to teach girls, women, anyone. If you let someone get away with what they've done, than they've won. You need to fight back. You need to speak up.
I think that there are many books on the Young Adult market now which deal with teenage grief in one form or another, and this is perhaps why I was unsurprised that Rachele Alpine chose to write a plot which used Kate's mum's death as its catalyst. Canary is a book which is beautifully written in a combination of forms; Kate's blog posts in prose and poetry and Kate's first person narration. Rachele Alpine challenges her reader with the subject matter, although at no point did I feel patronised by the emotions of Kate, however I may have wanted to hit a variety of her friends! Despite the events of the book Kate is truly a role model for readers who are her age; she is able to find her strength and individuality. Canary allows its readers to feel so many different emotions - grief, anger, disappointment- because this is a story we cannot help but care about! This is a must read!
Very quick read. I finished it in just a few sittings. It is about sports but without going into too much detail about the games, which I liked.
It will make you feel a bit uneasy reading this book because it does have some explicit parts. However, at the end of the day, it holds a fatastic message while being fully captivating, and true to the heart. The Canary will not dissapoint. Enjoy.
Good book with interesting characters and situations
Can't wait for this book to come out :)
The huge orange pelted tom walked in. "I heard this is Moonclan? I am from Nightclan. I was a leader, until i was overthrown. In my absence they have disbanded, so I have come here." He mewed solemnley. He looked around.
A timid gray she cat pads in. "Ummm can I join?" She asks.
She struggled through the grasses inches outside their territory, small, heavy paws sinking to the earth in exhaustion. She let out a pained mew of disstress.
She layed down on a high tree branch in an oak tree. Her jet black fur shimmered and her neon blue eyes gazed around
She woke up and padded out of the den.
*Walks up to Leader* "May I Join?" He Meows
(Here?)he looked around
(K) yes she said to redkit licking her cried fur
A sleek blue shecat pads in. "I am Rainfur. May I join?"
A loud outburst of several cats arguing overtook the camp. A pile of tussling and loudly quarreling cats basically rolled into the clan. Noticing they were surrounded by cats, they all froze, staring at the clan. In the blink of an eye they were seperated. "Um.. hello!" A light gray tom chirped, trying to break the awkward silence of the situation. In the middle, a beautiful silver she-cat with a blue tint to her fur rolled her equally blue eyes. Beside her, a cream tom with tan stripes on his tail looked miffed.
He padded in. "Hello?"
Pads in. "May i join?" She sits down.
She padded in "may i join" she asked
Your good at making the story flow. And