CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 2 . . . . September 14, 2007
Seventeen-year-old Cassidy, the privileged daughter of a successful businesswoman and the deputy mayor of Victoria, BC, leads what she sees as a charmed life: parents who love her, more money than she can spend, and a group of hip friends that includes her bodilicious boyfriend, Jason, who is attending her exclusive high school on a football scholarship. When her father is diagnosed with Huntington’s chorea, a degenerative, genetic neurological illness, Cass’s insistence on her being tested for the illness forces her parents to reveal that Cass is a sperm donor baby (and, therefore, not going to be a victim of Huntington’s). In an attempt to deal with her disgust at her conception and her anger at her parents’ betrayal by keeping her conception a secret, Cass becomes obsessed with discovering her biological father. In the process, she finds out who her
Cass is a self-centred, melodramatic drama queen as this book begins. Just when her parents need her the most, in the face of her father’s illness, Cass’s anger and temper tantrums and self-absorption dominate their lives. Only the cruelty of her “friends,” the comfort of the steadfast, pragmatic Jason and the persistence of an old friend, Quinn, set Cass on the road to self-knowledge, empathy for her parents and involvement in the politics of sperm donor babies.
The icky soup of high school cliques and gossip dominates Cass’ life as she obsesses about when and how she’ll lose her virginity to persistent, lovable Jason. Cass holds a three-year-old grudge against Quinn and seems to spend more time skipping school than in it. Clearly school is not the focus of her life. The dialogue is very true to today’s high schools, with somewhat less swearing than really goes on. Cass’s more than frequent absences from school don’t seem to raise the suspicions and concerns that they would in real life. Cass’s interest in birds is reflected in the chapter heading quotes from her grade 4 project on birds which connect with her present day problems. Both Jason and Quinn are strongly drawn characters that counterbalance Cassidy’s emotional babble.
As most Canadian high school students are sexually active, it will seem odd to the intended audience that Cass is still a virgin. As a self-described anti-partier, Cass’ sudden slide into intoxication via Jell-O shooters seems a tad unrealistic, even in the light of her reaction to her parents’ secret. However, it is the disgust, shame and misunderstanding of sperm donorship
that is so odd. Surely this community, educated and wealthy, would rejoice over the magic of the science that can help people become parents. Unfortunately, the reluctance of Cass’ parents and friends to celebrate her conception creates a red-neck attitude that is truly unbelievable in today’s Canada, making this cynical reviewer wonder who the audience of this book really is. The embarrassment of Cass’ parents seems quite silly, and Cass’s obsession with the identity of her biological father (especially while her real father is so ill) is incredulous.
A former high school teacher-librarian, Joan Marshall is now a Winnipeg, MB, bookseller.
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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.