________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 3 . . . . September 29, 2006


Tell. (Orca Soundings).

Norah McClintock.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2006.
100 pp., pbk. & cl., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55143-511-X (pbk.), ISBN 1-55143-672-8 (cl.).

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Sandi Harrison.

**** /4

Reviewed from prepublication copy.


“He said they wanted to talk to you, David.”

“They?” I said. “The cops?”

She nodded.

“What for?” I don't think I ever worked harder at getting just two words out of my mouth. I tried to sound like I had no idea what the cops would want with me.

Fast-paced and edgy, Norah McClintock's Tell is a mystery that begins with a dead body and ends with a psychological twist. Phil, David's stepfather, is shot and killed one night after taking $300 out of an ATM. David, the novel's narrator, is not surprised by the news, which makes him suspicious both to the police and the reader. Slowly, over the course of the story, the truth about what happened that night is drawn out of him.

     An “Orca Soundings” book, this short novella would appeal both to reluctant readers and younger audiences eager for a thrill. McClintock carries the plot swiftly, introducing the reader to a world of deceit and distrust. Characters are never who they seem—they are always hiding something. ‘Telling,' the act of someone giving away their emotions (perhaps of frustration or excitement) during a poker match is a major metaphor in Tell. As David is recounting his story to Detective Antonelli, his words begin to make connections to ‘telling' and his memories of his stepfather.

     Between the reader's trying to read between the lines to find out if David is guilty or not and attempting to put together the pieces of evidence that are carefully collected throughout the 100 pages, McClintock subtly drops a second storyline into the background. It is that of David's mother's history with Jack, a man David had always believed was a friend of Phil's. Although nothing in that storyline is brought to fruition, the hints of a new life beginning after Phil's death allow for a feeling of closure at the end of the story. The reader (the adult reader, at least!) roots for David's mother after all the struggles she has had in her life: the death of her youngest son six years earlier, her money problems, the murder of her husband and now the possibility of her one remaining son going to jail for the murder. David's mother has her own secrets, however, a reminder that nothing is as it seems at the beginning of the tale, and probably will not be once it ends.

     Tell will satisfy any reader eager to solve a case. It will also casually teach reluctant readers to look for clues in the text while taking pleasure in doing so. A clever, modern who-done-it.

Highly Recommended.

Sandi Harrison is currently completing her Master of Arts in Children's Literature at the University of British Columbia.

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

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