CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 28. . . .March 22, 2013
A. C. E. Bauer.
New York, NY: Random House (Distributed in Canada by Random House Canada), 2012.
183 pp., hardcover, $17.99.
Voyages and travels-Fiction.
Track and field-Fiction.
Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up.
Review by Mark Mueller.
Gil was not going to return to school…. He could no longer bear being in Green Valley, where every place hurt him. He had to find Enko, whether anyone helped him or not.
Gil Marsh is the “All American” boy. He’s smart, handsome, athletic and the most popular guy at Uruk High School in Green Valley. When a new student, Enko Labette, arrives from Quebec, Gil has finally met his social and athletic equal. At first, Gil is irritated by his new rival; however, after an encounter with the police at the “Rock”, the two become friends and inseparable.
The story takes a darker turn when Enko passes away from a bronchial infection and his body is shipped back home to Quebec for burial. Gil is heartbroken about his best friend’s death, and he is crushed when his parents are not able to drive up to Quebec. He also entertains hopes of bringing Enko back to life through a legendary family heirloom that supposedly holds the key to eternal life. Gil’s trip turns out to be more tumultuous then he originally plans as he tries to locate Enko’s grave, find out the truth behind the family heirloom that Enko handed over to him before his death, and navigate his way through Quebecois terrain and culture.
One of the strengths of Gil Marsh is that it would be a good choice for beginning and reluctant readers. The main character is likeable, and the book provides a good introduction to the French Canadian language and culture. The vocabulary used is simple and straightforward and is easily accessible as well; however, this uncomplicated vocabulary is also one of the weaknesses of the book. Though the book was supposed to be about the profound love between two male friends, it was hard for this reader to experience that love because the narrative is so action based.
Another weakness of the book is that, though it was supposed to be a modern retelling of the Gilgamesh story, there are not very many links to the original epic (other than the namesakes). The premise behind Gil Marsh is an interesting one. Advanced readers might feel short-changed after reading the book because the author does not develop the intended themes as fully as she could have.
Mark Mueller is the Education Librarian at Tyndale University College in Toronto, ON.
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