CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 3. . . .September 18, 2009
Tabby Freeman is pretty and popular and so rich she enjoys her own en suite bathroom, a seemingly bottomless spending allowance and the prestige of living in the biggest house in town. Yet she has repeated nightmares about falling off a tall building and plummeting to a horrible death. Lora Froggett goes to the same school but seems to already be living her nightmare. “Frog-face” is bullied mercilessly at school and then goes home to care for her three young siblings. She’s essentially on her own since her dad is a firefighter with crazy work shifts and her mom is ill with Multiple Sclerosis. Lora is one of the brightest students in the school, but that doesn’t give her any money, popularity, or help when her little sister throws her spaghetti on the kitchen floor.
On the surface, these two main characters have nothing in common, but Deborah Kerbel finds similarities. Each girl struggles with the role life has given her, and neither is happy. Secrets and fears come out in a bizarre conversation when one overhears the other crying in the next stall in the girls’ bathroom. Without knowing who is on the other side of the wall, the girls have an honest conversation, exhibiting a reality they never show to the rest of the world. How much easier is it to spill your guts to a friendly voice instead of a known face! Wisely, Kerbel does not have her characters become best friends after this; that would be entirely unbelievable. Rather, the author includes some dramatic events in the plot which throw the girls together in a totally unexpected way. Yet, even at the end of the novel, the two young women go their separate ways and will likely never again be in touch. Kerbel keeps her characters realistic, thrown together by an odd quirk of fate, able to help one another at a particular time and then happy to each go her own way. The novel depends largely on these two main characters and therein lies the strength of the book. Superficially entirely different, the girls face similar struggles. In the end, each has a chance to change her circumstances, but Kerbel doesn’t package everything neatly for her readers and tell us what will happen in the future. We can only hope the girls are able to capitalize on the opportunities offered to them.
Ann Ketcheson, a former teacher of high school English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON, where she has turned her love of travel into a new career as a travel consultant.
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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.