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Ginette Anfousse
Montreal, La courte echelle, 1991. 160pp, paper, $7.95
ISBN 2-89021 -107-X. CIP

Grades 8 and up/Ages 13 and up

Reviewed by Nancy Senior

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Life is not easy for Marilou, the heroine of this novel. She goes to a polyvalente (high school) where gangs roam the corridors, bullying the other students. Her best friend Colombo is scatterbrained and insecure, always hoping that her life will be transformed by each new hairstyle or boyfriend. Marilou's family offers no support: her parents are preoccupied by her older brother, who lies idly around the house when he is not out dealing drugs. Even worse for Marilou is her parents' reluctance to talk about her younger brother, who died a year before. The terrible secret of the title refers to the death of this younger brother, a Down's syndrome child, in an accident pro­voked by the thoughtless behaviour of a gang of young people. Equally terrible for Marilou is the fact that this child was not really loved by his parents, nor in fact by anyone except his sister.

But Marilou has remarkable inner resources. Underneath her tough exterior, she is intelligent, curious, courageous and loyal, and she possesses a sense of humour that helps her avoid the pitfalls of life in her difficult envi­ronment She reads the dictionary for fun, works on the school newspaper, gets out of an unwanted sexual encoun­ter, and, in the end, because of her independent but caring attitude, wins a boyfriend.

The "Roman +" series of books have very large print and thus little text per page - a device for attracting reluctant readers, perhaps. Ginette Anfousse is well known for her Pichou books for small children; as we sec here, she also writes well for teenage readers.

Nancy Senior, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Sask.
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