WHO CARES ABOUT KAREN?
Alison Lohans Pirot.
Volume 11 Number 4.
The idea of twin protagonist narration, to tell alternate chapters of this tale of survival, has merit. Both are l“losers”; Karen is fourteen, “a complete dud..... a nothing to the other kids.” She hides behind glasses, a fall of mousy hair, and shapeless clothes. Stanley “was like an 8-track tape that played only clown routines and ghost stories." He hides his fears and cowardice behind glib words. These two, plus three others, are heading home late at night from a stage band tour. Stanley's brother Ward is older and poised on the tip of unknown violence; Shelley and Dave are both all Canadian kids: good-looking, intelligent, and popular.
The car slides into a rockfall blocking the highway and lurches down a steep embankment. The five manage to escape the vehicle just before it blows up. The slope above is too steep and slippery to climb, so the students decide to follow the creek below until it leads to a safer way up. This is the interior of British Columbia and the density of the brush means trouble. The group follows the wrong branch of the stream and becomes lost. Dave and Ward are enemies, with Dave suffering a possible concussion and Ward mysteriously appearing and disappearing. Shelley breaks a leg. Stanley impales his hand on a protruding spike. Which, of course, leaves Karen, who normally is a quivering mass of insecurities. But she accepts the challenge, although not too willingly at first. She shows her mettle during a physical fight between Dave and Ward. Stanley helps her, then insists on accompanying her to search for an alternate route back to the road. Karen and Stan (no longer a Stanley in her eyes) find a regard and respect for one another that promises to turn into greater things.
Alison Lohans Pirot has written a fast-paced story of “people against the environment and each other.” It is perhaps a touch unrealistic to have Karen and Stan metamorphose in the space of two days, but many readers will react to the “wimp-to-hero” format with interest and pleasure. The setting is used to advantage and well-chosen for the theme. The novel may not linger long in one's memory, but the time spent reading it will be enjoyable and worthwhile.
Fran Newman, Spring Valley P.S., Brighton, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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