________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV . . . . August 31, 2007


The Freak. (The Freak Trilogy, Book 1).

Carol Matas.
Toronto, ON: Key Porter, 1997/2007.
106 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55263-930-6.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Linda Wood.

**** /4

Reviewed from Uncorrected Proof.


I think you and I, Jade, have tapped into something that most people have - they just don’t use it. And you know different psychics have different gifts...Perhaps they are just tapping into different portions of their brains. - Frieda Konantz, Psychic (p. 88)


On the subatomic level, Jade, there is no linear time. Everything happens simultaneously. We humans make linear time. So you aren’t seeing the future. You’re seeing the moment, the moment we all live in, where past, present, and future all live together. Eternity, for lack of another word. And Jade, I know you love science and math. Well, guess what? All these ideas I’ve just described to you are theories developed by quantum physicists. - Dr. Manuel, Neurologist (p. 65)


Fifteen-year-old Jade is enjoying a leisurely summer vacation at the family cottage on Falcon Lake with her University of Winnipeg math professor father, psychologist mother and annoying little brother, Marty. She suddenly contracts a case of meningitis that sends her to hospital where she nearly dies. Her Near Death Experience ends in a conversation with her dearly departed grandfather who sends her back. Jade’s life, which she carefully planned, threatens to spiral out of control, taking her in a new direction, one that she doesn’t necessarily want!

     From the moment she leaves the hospital, Jade sees auras surrounding people she meets, ranging from family, friends, teachers and schoolmates to complete strangers. Not only that, she discovers she has a talent for mind reading! Hiding her emerging abilities is much harder than it seems. Will everyone think she is a gossip or just plain nuts? Jade’s grandmother and her neurologist, Dr. Manuel, seem to have no trouble at all accepting her newfound gifts. Her parents and best friend, however, might need some convincing.

     When Jade meets her Aunt Janeen’s boyfriend, Sahjit, an immigration lawyer, working on an extremely difficult extradition case involving a Nazi war criminal, her luck seems to change for the better. Sahjit’s family includes poetry-writing Jon, a handsome grade 12 student at Pearson High, whose interest in Jade is only matched by his belief in Karma.

     Someone is stuffing school lockers with hate propaganda at Jade’s school, Kelvin High. The trouble is --- finding the person responsible. After the school administration is alerted to the threat toward Jews, the principal proclaims a Holocaust Awareness Week. When Jade and Marty are confronted by a skinhead from her school at a local park, Jade must finally come to terms with her psychic powers. She might just be able to help the police avert a bomb threat at her synagogue during Yom Kippur.

     Jade’s character, written in the first person, coupled withthe novel’s multicultural cast of supporting characters and use of Winnipeg’s familiar street names, all lend it an air of immediacy and authenticity. The Freak has a film option with Fireworks Media.

     Matas, an award-winning author, has written more than 30 novels translated into 11 languages including German, Russian and Japanese. In previous novels, she has covered difficult subject matter ranging from the treatment of the Jews during World War II to a girl’s sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted authority figure.

Highly Recommended.

Linda Wood is a journalist and college tutor in Saskatoon, SK.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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