CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2006
So Hope finds herself on a plane bound for New York. Once there, the first friend she meets is a big yellow mutt named Clocker who belongs to a carefree young woman named Nat. At first, Hope is confused about her reaction to Nat, until she finally acknowledges the truth to herself: she has a crush on Nat. This realization raises lots of questions for Hope. Fortunately, by this time, she has moved in with the couple for whom she is babysitting, Larissa and Maira, and they are able to support her and help answer some of those questions. Ultimately, however, she alone must find the courage to accept this new discovery and to take the frightening step of letting Nat know how she feels.
This is author Carrie Mac's second entry in the “Orca Soundings” series. This series offers reluctant and/or struggling teen readers short, straightforward stories that deal with issues that are relevant to contemporary youth. In Crush, a young woman confronts the tumultuous question of her sexuality, asking herself many very candid and realistic questions: Am I gay just because I think about kissing a girl? What defines "queerness," and what if I don't want to be? These direct, perfectly normal questions will undoubtedly intrigue young adult readers, whether or not they are questioning their own sexual identity. Furthermore, the various characters that feature in the story are quirky and engaging, and the relationship that Hope shares with her parents is refreshing. Her nonchalant descriptions of commune life as well as her slightly mocking yet totally affectionate references to her hippie parents heighten the book's originality and appeal.
Of course, working within the constraints imposed by the "hi-low" format limited the author's ability to delve into any of the issues raised in any real depth. The fact that Hope was able to come to terms with this new bit of self-awareness with such relative ease and that she seemed to make such a swift, smooth transition from "questioning" to full acceptance felt rather inauthentic and too neatly wrapped up. Furthermore, Joy figured so little in the actual story that it was, in fact, frustrating that her selfishness and rebelliousness were so vividly depicted initially, but she then virtually disappeared as a character. However, given the structure and function of this series, this book achieves the goal of providing a provocative storyline with high teen appeal. It will be a worthy addition to the series which is, itself, a welcome and valuable one for any public or school library that seeks to offer books that will entice less confident readers.
Lisa Doucet is a children's bookseller at Woozles Bookstore in Halifax, NS.
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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.