________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 11 . . . . February 3, 2006


Snitch. (Orca Soundings).

Norah McClintock.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2005.
100 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55143-484-9.

Subject Headings:
Problem youth - Juvenile fiction.
Dogs - Training - Juvenile fiction.
Anger - Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-11 / Ages 12-16.

Review by Andrea Szilagyi.

*** /4


It was supposed to be easy. You choose, they had told me. You can either go to a regular anger management program, which is where, basically, you sit around with a bunch of losers once a week and talk about what makes you mad and what you could have done instead of punching out a wall or maybe a person. Or you can go to this special program where they teach you how to train dogs. Gee, let me think about it--door number one or door number two...

I went with the dogs. It had to be better than sitting around listening to a bunch of tantrum freaks gripe, right? Besides, how hard could it be?

Things went sour right from minute one.

The woman at the front desk told me to go to the room that she called the training room. I opened the door. And there was Scott. He was standing in the middle of the room with some other guys. He turned when the door opened. When he saw me he grinned, as if nothing had happened, as if we were still friends. He had a kind of lopsided smile that always made him look goofy. I didn't smile back at him. My hands curled into fists.


Josh moves from a group home to his brother's tiny apartment, which is made much smaller by the tension between Josh and his sister-in-law, not to mention the baby. He is required to attend anger-management classes that take the form of dog training sessions. With Travis, the enemy, constantly pushing his buttons, Josh finds it increasingly difficult to control his temper, and when the police come looking for him, accusing him of assault, he maintains his innocence but isn't sure he'll get off this time.

     A swift moving plot and language designed for a 2.1+ reading level make this a quick, easy, and engrossing read. Josh comes to life as a complex character, struggling with his past hardships, present conflicts, and uncertain future. The first-person narrative brings the reader closer to Josh as well and heightens the effect of the narrative by making his emotions and actions more intense. The themes in the book--family, abuse, violence, anger, friendship, empathy, and home--all revolve around the protagonist.

     This “Orca Soundings” reluctant readers' book, with its quick, intense, and powerful plot that really hits home, will likely appeal to high school boys or a slightly younger audience.


Andrea Szilagyi is a graduate student studying children's literature at the University of British Columbia.


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

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