CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 4. . . .September 28, 2012
Although 17-year-old Cody Many wounds has been in trouble before, he is determined to keep his nose clean, study well enough to get into university and excel at jiu-jitsu. But he sure does like girls. And sex. As he's reconnecting with old friends Jarrod and Silas, Cody manages to evade his gossipy, loving, Tsuu T'ina nation family and begin a hot relationship with Miranda, the twin sister of his jiu-jitsu partner. And then he gets the text that no teenage boy wants: Miranda is pregnant. Feeling attacked on many fronts, Cody is horrified that Miranda not only blames him for the pregnancy but also is planning an abortion. Cody stumbles into some bad decisions as he mulls over his future, and he eventually lands in the arms of former girlfriend Carly Yellow Horse. A babysitting evening with her makes him realize how much work parenting would be. Cody's wise Uncle Tom helps him to accept his family's support and to decide to stay in Calgary for university. After all, Cody thinks, there are pretty cute girls there
This short Lorimer "Sidestreet" series novel is aimed at struggling high school readers. However, the characters jump off the page, energetically engaging the reader. Cody is the epitome of masculine bravado and determination to do well. He copes with in-your-face racism, a prying cousin and an immature trickster friend Silas who attracts trouble like bees to honey. Cody has summoned up the self-control to excel at jiu-jitsu for over a year. Inwardly, Cody scorns his friend Jarrod's seeming lack of ambition but is self-centred enough to misunderstand his friend's motives. Although Cody presents with a know-it-all attitude, he is woefully ignorant about condom use, pregnancy and abortion. Miranda's fury with Cody's behaviour, her uninhibited sexual desire and her courageous decision to have an abortion and say goodbye to Cody will attract female readers of all sorts. Carly also initiates sex with Cody, but her down-to-earth attitude, her capacity for forgiveness and her ability to handle children will resonate with all readers.
Cody's friends are not just secondary characters – they introduce the trickster character (Silas) who is always causing mischief, and the teen (Jarrod) who re-arranges his life to manage his father's depression. Cody's supportive family idealizes the traditional native family who are always there to help, even while they tease and gossip.
Without lecturing or telling, Firmston addresses many current issues of high interest to teens (sex, pregnancy, abortion, post-secondary planning, friendships and parents). The abortion issue is particularly well-handled as Miranda presents Cody with the position of a pregnant girl and he argues his anti-abortion views. The dialogue between them is up-to-date, sharp and realistic, as it is with all the characters.
Although Hook Up is set in Calgary, it could be any large city, and urban teens will recognize the transit system and the mall atmosphere.
Joan Marshall is a Winnipeg, MB, bookseller.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.