________________ CM . . . . Volume III Number 6 . . . . November 15, 1996

cover The Seasons are Horses.

Bernice Friesen.
Saskatoon, SK: Thistledown Press, 1995. 150 pp., paper, $12.95.
ISBN 1-895449-40-5.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.
Review by Gina Varty.

**** /4


"It's not your looks that are keeping the guys away," she told me a few minutes before, after I complained about my wiry red hair and rusty eyes, and looked down at the back-catcher bruises and mosquito bites on my skinny legs. "It's your attitude. It's what you do. I know it's not really your fault, your parents being so strict, non-fun and non-everything, but you have to ease up and stop being so ... intellectual." She said the word like it was some sort of disease, but was proud of the fact she could pronounce it.
image Boys, looks, parents, nerdiness, and friendship are just a few of the social concerns explored in this finely-crafted collection of short stories.

space Bernice Friesen, whose stories have appeared in Prairie Fire, Grain, NeWest Review, and Prairie Journal, presents captivating characters facing issues near and dear to the hearts of her female 13 to 18-year-old protagonists.

space Overweight Naomi, Georgie with an attitude, jealous Rosalie, Angie who pretends to be something she is not, shy Susan, in-love Lucy, Selina who has an abusive, alcoholic father, and others live in the small fictional prairie town of Grassbank, "the land of sheer boredom ... [where] several hundred people live - and they are not dead, though sometimes you wonder."

space The reader becomes a citizen of this community, and Grassbank high school becomes the reader's own school. Boundaries blur and identities mingle as characters become acquaintances or friends, and the reader becomes the protagonist. For who has not risked, loved, longed for acceptance and respect, or laughed on the outside?

space Many of the subjects of the stories are evident in their titles: "Brother Dear," "Teasing Boys," and "Musical Friends," are self-explanatory. Friesen's protagonists also deal with alcoholism ("Kick Down"), and drugs and doing "it" ("Live Dangerously"). Her characters live in a world of parental expectations, jerky boyfriends, Alzheimers and single parent families: a world in harmony with all creation in which the sun pushes the wind and the "seasons are horses running away from you."

Highly Recommended

Gina Varty is an actor, and poet and librarian at the Audio Visual Educational Library, United Church of Canada, Edmonton.

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

Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364