________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 30 . . . . April 6, 2012


Maxed Out. (Orca Currents).

Daphne Greer.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2012.
114 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55469-981-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55469-982-7 (hc.).

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Laura Dick.

*** ½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



I can hear them. It's like I'm right there.

I probably know who just scored.

The sound of laughter echoes through the woods. When Duncan and I round the bend in the path, Ian is sliding belly-up on the ice. He skids smack into the goalie, puck and all.

"And he scores!" Ian yells.

"Nice one!" I shout in his direction.

"Oweee, nice one," Duncan mimics in a low voice.

Ian stands up and brushes the snow off his pants. "Hey! Can you play today?" he hollers.

"No," I yell back. "Mom's got a long shift." This is my standard answer now. Even when she isn't at work, I still have to say that.

It kills me. I want to skate with Ian and the guys like I used to.

Max's world used to revolve around hockey - practicing, playing, thinking and talking about the game all the time but not anymore. Now Max has to worry about his special needs brother, Duncan, and his mom who are both having a hard time coping since his dad died. Because his mom has to work so much in order to make enough money for them to live on, Max is on full time Duncan duty. That means getting Duncan ready for school every morning, delivering him to his classroom, looking out for him after school and taking him with him everywhere. Even to hockey practice. It's not that Max doesn't love Duncan. He does, a lot. But looking after a special needs brother who is bigger than he is, worrying about his mom and trying to keep up with his friends and play an occasional game of hockey is just too much for Max. No wonder he reaches out for help and finds some for himself, and for the rest of his family, too.

      Maxed Out, by Daphne Greer, is a realistic portrayal of a family rocked by the sudden death of their husband and father. Targeted at 10- to 13-year olds, this novel does an excellent job of layering the stresses and tensions of Max's world. Max's decision to ask for help and call The Kids Help Line will be a surprise to readers. Greer shows kids that there are resources available to help them and that asking for help is always an appropriate choice.

      A past volunteer for an adult Help Phone, Daphne Greer delivers a well-written, engaging novel for preteens who will be drawn in by the apparent sports focused cover and the sports related theme but who will ultimately be exposed to a book that digs a little deeper and that turns out to tell a much more important story.

      Phone numbers for help lines in Canada and the US are included in the author's notes at the back of the book.

Highly Recommended.

Laura Dick is trying to raise four teenagers while attempting to maintain her sanity. She escapes to work as a branch manager at a mid-sized public library in Southwestern Ontario.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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