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Carol Matas.
Toronto, ON: HarperCollins, 1991.
155pp., cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 0-00-223743-1. CIP.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14

Reviewed by Gordon Heasley.

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

Set at a Liberal leadership convention, The Race is an engaging young adult narrative that artfully combines the stories of a questioning adolescent and the elaborate political process of a leadership race.

Ali Green, the narrator, is a somewhat shy, maturing fourteen-year-old who has worked extremely hard to get herself elected as a junior delegate to the Liberal leadership convention in Calgary. Her mom is Rosaline Green, member of Parliament for Winnipeg South, a sincere, hard-working idealist running for party leader.

Beginning at 11:00 a.m., July 5, just as the wheels of the plane touch down on the runway, The Race begins a chronological movement through the five days of the convention. The dialogue and the energy of a well-written story hook our interest and maintain it.

The Calgary airport is a beehive of activity as volunteers direct delegates to various buses. Here Ali meets up with Paul James, son of her mom's main leadership opponent, by accidentally dropping a suitcase on his foot. The romantic plot begins as Ali and Paul fall for each other and begin a secretive and then much publicized relationship. Then, when Ali and Paul overhear Paul's dad take a political pay-off, things become even more complex.

The Race offers short descriptive passages explaining the whole process of the Ieadership struggle. The opposition party's role, for example, is to "criticize the government, point out their mistakes and suggest a better way of doing things." Even such issues as image creation, dirty play, media coverage and bias, and the importance of "winning Québec" are discussed.

Ali's mom succeeds, as does Carol Matas' latest book. The mastery of The Race, however, should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Matas' career.

Definitely recommended.

Gordon Heasley, Guelph, ON.
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