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Jan Truss.

Vancouver, Douglas & Mclntyre, c1982.
196pp, paper, $5.95.
ISBN 0-88899-014-6.

Grades 6-9.
Reviewed by Joan Weller.

Volume 11 Number 2.
1983 March.

Jasmin Marie Antoinette Stalke is her name, and she's not to be forgotten. Long after readers have put down the latest book by Jan Truss, author of A Bird at the Window (Macmillan, 1974) and A Very Small Rebellion (LeBel, 1976), they will be haunted by its heroine and her struggle for freedom and love. She lives in a log house surrounded by a junkyard of overturned cars and rusted farm machinery with her six younger brothers and sisters and parents who do not care that she cooks, cleans, babysits the children and supervises her retarded brother. Faced with this chaotic home atmosphere, never-ending family responsibilities, and her impending failure in grade 6, Jasmin runs away seeking solitude and freedom in the deep wilderness. Her "survival" is a true self-discovery. In nature she discovers a "sense of happy aloneness," as expressed in her own found ability as a potter in her hideaway cave. Nature's beauty and harshness are sensitively described by the author. At times, the story is too static despite shifts of viewpoint allowing readers to follow retarded Leroy's futile search for his sister and the official search party's rewarding discovery of Jasmin in the safe hands of a too noble return-to-the-land couple. The parents' dull-witted responses are irksome and only serve to emphasize the seriousness of the situation and Jasmin's call for help. In the final analysis, Jasmin is the focus of the story. Her actions save Leroy and bring the social workers and some slight sense of hope for the future.

Joan Weller, Ottawa P. L., Ottawa, ON.
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