CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 9 . . . . January 6, 2006
All young girls in their teenage years face a challenging time filled with many decisions and choices. These problems are usually impacted by family dynamics and the teenager's growing sense of independence. Their lives may revolve around strong friendships and family and, for some, the unpredictable emotions related to love. In Katelyn's Affection, Kirsten Klassen tackles these and many other issues in which young readers can identify, including the effects of separation and divorce on children, religion and values, and multitude loyalties.
Seventeen year old Katelyn, the main character in the story, and her 13-year-old sister, Rachel, were raised in a Mennonite family. Their time is spent with both of their recently separated parents. The sisterly bond is portrayed as a great strength when having to deal with the disruption in the family and other changes that they encounter. The family tries to come to terms with the changing roles both as single parents and adjusting children. In addition to family difficulties, Katelyn is torn between a loyalty to a long time boyfriend, Nathan, who left for college and her new found friendship with Shawn, a boy from a different church. Things are compounded with Katelyn's best friend, Leah, making herself scarce due to an involvement in an abusive relationship of which no one is aware.
Klassen offers a very true-to-life portrayal of a young girl and the many obstacles she faces. Klassen's writing style is straightforward and presents a story that flows well and is entertaining. Throughout, there are many situations that teenagers frequently encounter which makes for a story very relevant for its readers. The author emphasizes strong family bonds, religious values and beliefs, and morals. Katelyn is portrayed as a good student who volunteers at a riding school for the handicapped and is strong in her faith. Similarly, her new boyfriend Shawn, also from a split home shares her values, is supportive, and volunteers at a shelter.
Both sisters are shown to face and overcome a series of obstacles. When Nathan, her old boyfriend, returns home for a visit. Katelyn struggles with mixed inner feelings. Younger Rachel is shown to have more difficulty in accepting her parents' split and wrestles with the obvious feelings of loneliness and abandonment. She is depicted as an outspoken character, for such a young girl, who frequently initiates discussion and resolution of issues. During this time of family difficulties, Rachel meets a boy who becomes a positive impact for her during a turbulent time.
Katelyn's Affection is Klassen's first novel. It was read in one sitting by this reviewer and encourages one to be on the lookout for other upcoming titles by this author. It is a work that is enjoyable to read while being surprisingly multifaceted in its content. Its value is that it lets readers observe a variety of situations through varying perspectives whether it is the mother, the father, daughters, or friends. Through reading and reflection on this story, one will derive a sense of appreciation of dilemmas faced by others.
Osgoode, ON's Jo-Anne Mary Benson is a writer/reviewer for North American magazines.
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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.