CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 4 . . . . October 13, 2006
Being a child of the 80’s, I remember watching Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High on TV, and, even though I was a bit younger than the characters on the show, I still enjoyed the shows and could relate to one character or another. Publisher James Lorimer and Company first began to publish the Degrassi Junior High books in the early 1990’s and have now reissued some of the most popular characters’ books of the series. While some of the books are partial transcripts of an episode, others are original stories.
In this particular book, the reader follows the story of one of the most popular characters, Snake, who is in Grade 9 and has just made the Degrassi Junior Boys Basketball Team. Since school has just started, Snake feels as though he’s off to a great start: his band “The Zit Remedy” is doing well; he’s finally made it onto the basketball team; and his brother, Glenn, has showed up from university for a surprise visit. But, Snake’s world is turned upside-down when Glenn tells Snake and their parents he is gay, and, instead of living in the university dormitories, he will be living with his partner. Snake must now figure out how he feels about his own sexuality and the sexual orientation of others around him.
While this novel is loosely based on an episode of Degrassi Junior High entitled “He Ain’t Heavy,” the novel develops more of the details of Snake’s year in grade nine and, therefore, more of Snake’s struggle with his feelings about sexual orientation. Snake goes through the gamut of feeling confused, angry and worried about his brother, while trying to figure out his own personal identity. The novel deals with teenage romances, bullying and sexual awareness. Because of this, this book would work well as an introduction to sexuality and the appreciation of people’s diversity. The writing is simple and straightforward and would be fine for a reluctant reader. Although the novel is not groundbreaking in terms of imagination or literary merit, it does serve its purpose to talk about sexuality and diversity.
Geneviève M.Y. Valleau is currently completing her Masters of Arts in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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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.