CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 9 . . . . January 6, 2006
Fourteen-year-old Jake Lucknow and his family are on their way to their cabin at the Gem Lakes, a cabin which has been in their family for generations. Jake seems to be your average teenage boy, with one distinction: his certain death sentence due to brain cancer. Determined to enjoy one last idyllic summer at the lake, he and Claire, his sister, begin a quest to find their long-missing grandfather and end with a startling discovery about Jake's health.
Though The Gem Lakes promises to be a unique story, blending Jake's personal health problem with a wilderness adventure tale, it ends with a cluttered blend of narrators, genres, and subplots. As the story progresses, the reader is left wondering whether the story is about Jake's health, the quest to find Grandpa Lucknow, facets of Canadian history, or the unique geology of Gem Lakes. For example, the references to Canadian history are often not worked into the plot. Whole paragraphs about Canada's link to the Gold Rush are dropped in out of nowhere. For instance, at one moment Jake and Claire are searching for shelter, but the next section contains an exposition about the Succa Sunna Mining Company and the 1924 change in the earth's magnetic axis. The book buckles under the lack of careful construction.
As well, the novel contains various editing problems, such as the repeated misuse of the word ‘literally,' neglected indentations for new paragraphs, and missed commas. The number of errors is distracting to the audience and makes the text uncomfortable to read.
Unfortunately, The Gem Lakes strives to be too many things for teenage male readers. As a result, it does not offer compelling insights into cancer, family dynamics, geology, or Canadian history. The novel ends as a confusing and unsatisfying read.
Pam Klassen-Dueck obtained her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees at the University of Manitoba. She has taught Grade 8 and Grade 11 English. Currently, she is enrolled in the pre-M.A. program at the University of Manitoba.
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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.