CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 9 . . . . January 6, 2006
Sudden Impact is one of the new titles in the “Orca Currents” series -- high interest intermediate novels aimed at "reluctant" readers. The interest level is geared to ages 10 to 14, with reading levels at a grade 2 to 4.5. The books use contemporary compelling stories by established authors.
Certainly Sudden Impact fits these criteria. It is a fast paced, bare bones action story written by prolific multi genre author Lesley Choyce. The story is told in first person by Tina, a friend to Kurt, who is worried about his upcoming soccer game as Kurt has seemed unwell. When Kurt collapses on the field, it is Tina who knows that it is serious. And it is serious. Kurt has a pre-existing liver condition that requires a transplant or he may not live. While Kurt's parents seem in denial, Tina sets out to find someone at school with Kurt's blood type to get him the blood transfusions he needs. And ultimately it is Tina who finds a liver donor for Kurt when their classmate -- and Kurt's main rival on the soccer team -- is killed in a motorcycle accident. It is Tina who convinces Jason's parents that this is the right thing to do.
While it is unconventional to give away the ending of a book in a review, I feel that teachers and librarians should be aware of the heavy nature of the material before recommending this book to students.
For the most part, Sudden Impact is extremely well written while containing some wooden dialogue between the completely stereotypical depictions of all the parents in the story and Tina. Although these depictions certainly are in context of teen angst stories positioning adults as enemies, the scenes involving Kurt's parents and Jason's parents seemed heavy handed and false -- but they do serve to drive the plot. On the other hand, scenes between Tina and Martha, the ambulance attendant, as well as scenes between Tina and Kurt are succinct and lovely.
Readers, especially those from the East, will enjoy recognizing scenery as Tina races to find Kurt in Point Pleasant Park in Halifax.
Sudden Impact is just as its title says -- a hard hitting story that will stay with you long after you close the book.
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