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Crook, Marion
Toronto, Stoddart Publishing, 1992. 106pp, paper, $5.95, ISBN 0-7736-7362-8. (A Gemini Book). CIP

Grades 7 to 9/Ages 12 to 14

Reviewed by Jennifer Johnson

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

Riptide! is the most recent title written by Marion Crook, the author of numerous non-fiction and fiction books for and about young adults.

Fourteen-year-old Rory MacDonald has just moved from the fishing community of Cooks Harbour to Halifax. Now both his parents have jobs, his mother as a nurse and his father as a janitor at a Department of Fisheries and Oceans building. Rory is humiliated because his father has given up fishing, he feels isolated in this new urban environment, and he is without friends until he begins to hang out at the local mall.

Here he is drawn into a new circle of acquaintances, who introduce him to shoplifting. Rory's presence of mind and quick hands prove an asset and he soon moves on to try house-breaking. His progress is hindered when his cousin, Megan, comes for a two-week stay. Megan's lectures do little to deter Rory, but when she herself is in danger of being manipulated by the gang, he changes course.

Crook has a lot of experience talking with and writing for young adults. Her youthful voices are realistic and Rory's sense of dislocation is genuinely portrayed. She describes the built heritage of Halifax well and adds a supernatural element to the story which should add to its attraction for her audience. (Elderly Archie, a seasonal streetperson, provides a link to Rory's past through conversations about, and, Crook eventually suggests, with his grandfather.)

While Riptide! is a fast-paced action story that rings true on an emotional level, it tries to do too much. The furious pace of the plot, the numerous characters and the supernatural component detract from the development of the primary players. However, owing to Crook's sure hand with the language of her adolescent subjects, the book will have certain appeal to young adult readers.

Jennifer Johnson is a children's librarian in Ottawa, Ontario.

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