CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 3 . . . .September 28, 2007
Extreme Edge. (SideStreets).
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2007.
126 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55028-966-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55028-967-1 (hc.).
Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.
Review by Ann Ketcheson.
As I wander up the shortcut to the Bluffs, I puzzle over my dad's words. "Sport? I'd call it attempted suicide." That's what he might say about my planned climb. But he's dead wrong. What's extreme for one person is a piece of cake for somebody else. It all depends on your training and skill level and how much you want to do something. I have plenty of the first two. Workouts at the climbing wall have turned me into a Spiderman clone. If you go without a rope, without any aid, you've got to move fast and you've got to be confident - that's the key. Not everyone can or should try it.
Yeah. I can picture myself up there, the world at my feet. I'm tasting the first solo ascent of the Wall, and it's way better than hot chocolate after some iffy ice climb. No bolts, no cams, no chocks, no rope - just one, clean climb that no one else has done before.
In Extreme Edge, readers are brought into the world of extreme sports - paragliding, skydiving, ice climbing, snowboarding. Jay's particular interest is rock climbing, specifically a rock face called 'the Wall' which he hopes to climb solo and without any equipment. His good friend, Brad, plans an extreme ski jump.
As well as explaining the sports involved, particularly rock climbing, author Kellerhals-Stewart takes readers on a journey involving teenage boys, their friendships and their family relationships. Jay's parents are worried he might become over-confident, and they don't like him hanging around the gang of kids at the Hilton High-Rise who seem only interested in extreme sports, to the detriment of the other things in life.
Jay is well-prepared to climb 'the Wall' but doesn't want to share his plans with anyone in case they try to stop him or otherwise jinx the climb. Understandably, his friends feel left out. Brad's plans for his ski jump aren't well thought out, and Brad isn't the greatest athlete, but the relationship between the two boys is so strained that he doesn't ask for Jay's help, with almost disastrous consequences.
Extreme Edge, with short chapters and easy vocabulary, is an excellent choice for reluctant readers. The rock climbing is described in a clear and exciting manner which takes readers right up 'the Wall' alongside Jay and gets the adrenalin flowing. The novel would make an excellent addition to the young adult fiction section of any library.
Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.
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