________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 9 . . . . January 6, 2006


Sudden Impact. (Orca Currents).

Lesley Choyce.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2005.
104 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55143-476-8.

Subject Headings:
Donation of organs, tissues, etc.-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 6-10 / Ages 11-15.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

*** /4


Coach Kenner yelled at me to get off the field. He and Jason both came chasing after me. They thought I'd lost my mind. A kid falls down in a soccer game, big deal. But I knew better.

The ref had his hand of Kurt's shoulder, and the other players had moved back. Kurt was gulping for air and let out a terrible moan like he was trying to cry but couldn't. I put my face close to his and saw that his skin was clammy and pale. I tried to hear what he was saying and could finally make out he words, "Help me."

Coach Kenner pulled me away and was still acting like it was no big deal. Jason, that is to say, the nasty version of Jason, started ranting and raving, "Look at this guy. He takes a fall, gets the wind knocked out of him and acts like he's dying. What a joke."

Maybe Jason thought he could shame his teammate into getting up and back into the game. I gave him a look that would have made any intelligent creature run for cover.

"Call an ambulance," I said, my voice shaking.

The other players all looked at me like I was crazy. Jason played it for all it was worth. "What is this? Kurt has to have a girl come to the rescue every time he falls down? Is this the sort of weakling we want on our team?"

"Call an ambulance," I said louder this time.

No one paid attention. The ref, however, bent over Kurt, pushing me out of his way. He looked up at Kenner. "She's right. Call an ambulance."


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.



Liz Greenaway is a former bookseller who now lives in Edmonton, AB.

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

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