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Mary Razzell
Toronto, Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 1994.
196pp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-88899-161-4.
(Groundwood Young Adult). CIP

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14

Reviewed by Margaret Mackey

Volume 22 Number 4
1994 September

Jenny John lives with her mother and sister in a small British Columbia coastal community. World War II has ended but her father has not yet returned from combat.

Jenny, the narrator, claims that her mother hates her, and certainly the mother seems very antagonistic. Jenny finds it a relief when she has to move to a larger community to go to high school. She boards with a woman who is mysteriously disliked by her mother, and she frets about her father, who is not returning as expected. Her new boyfriend is some consolation but he moves away.

All of this is readable enough and the local detail is interesting, but the plot developments are heavily telegraphed and Jenny is probably much more astonished than any of her readers will be to learn that the circumstances of her birth were not straightforward. When she finally tracks down her father, the ensuing fishing trip turns up many discoveries but not many surprises.

This book is not especially distinguished but it holds its own when compared to numerous U.S. counterparts, and it describes a particular way of life in Canada. Local colour is its main virtue; it will be useful in Canadian regional collections for young adults.

Margaret Mackey is a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta

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