________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 5. . . .October 3, 2014


Homecoming. (Orca Soundings).

Diane Dakers.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2014.
108 pp., pbk., hc., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0803-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0804-1 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0805-8 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0806-5 (epub).

Grades 6-10 / Ages 11-15.

Review by Stephanie Johnson.

** /4



I am so sick and tired of defending my dad. I’m sick of talking about the incident, tired of being hassled about it. I feel like getting Mr. Hazel to put it on the morning announcements. That way, everyone in the school will hear it all at once: “Attention all students: Fiona Gardener’s father DID NOT TOUCH THAT GIRL. The lying little drunken skank made it all up.” Well, I guess the principal wouldn’t call Morgan a skank. But everyone knows what she is. And what she did…

Anyway, I thought it was ancient history. I thought that everyone had finally gotten over the whole “Fiona’s dad is a rapist” thing. Nobody has bugged me about it for months…

But now that my dad is coming home, it’s all started up again. Why can’t they all just leave me alone? It’s not like I went to jail. It’s not like I did anything wrong. I kind of wish my dad wasn’t coming home tonight. I mean I miss him and everything. But having an ex-con for a father is going to make my life hell all over again.


Fiona is a regular 15-year-old girl: she enjoys crafts, walking her dog and hanging out with her best friend. When her dad was convicted of raping one of Fiona's fellow students at school, Fiona dealt with major changes at home as well as incessant bullying at school. Eventually, people moved onto other things, and Fiona was able to resume a normal semblance of life. But now, Fiona’s dad is returning home from jail, and her life is once again being turned upside down. Everyone at school is talking about it, her mom is behaving strangely, and Fiona, herself, has no idea how to act around her own father. As everything begins to spiral out of her control, Fiona finds relief with a new crowd of friends: ones who drink, smoke and party. Fiona becomes more and more entrenched in this new, precarious lifestyle until it all comes to head with a shocking discovery about her father and the girl he raped.

     From the first page of the novel, readers’ interest will be piqued as an anonymous “incident” is mentioned; however, the suspense is not maintained as almost immediately the incident is defined as the supposed rape committed by Fiona’s father. Having said this, the novel progresses at a swift pace, and the action and story never let up, making it a quick and engaging read. This pace is accomplished by the novel containing little detail and focusing on the progression of plot rather than additions such as setting and character development; a traditional story arc is very much evident. While this description of Homecoming sounds rather negative, the book is part of the “Orca Soundings” series which has the express purpose of publishing high-interest books for teenage reluctant readers. Viewing the novel through this lens, it becomes a book which is accessible, interesting and even relatable. The text is accessible to a wide range of readers due to the uncomplicated vocabulary, and it makes use of relevant language that teens can relate to. The physical copy does not intimidate with size and weight, but is a comfortable read with its small size, large print, and the short number of pages.

     Homecoming does have certain shortcomings, such as the exceptionally tidy ending and the multiple threads of plot that are created and never go anywhere. The author employs mental questions as a way to express the internal emotions of Fiona, and, while on the one hand this makes for accessible reading, it quickly becomes irritating as the seventh question in a row is repeated. Throughout the novel, Homecoming does raise important issues, such as bullying, that are very relevant in today’s society, and one portrayal that was particularly interesting was how easy it was for Fiona to fall in with the popular crowd and start drinking even though this was against her natural personality. The relevance of Homecoming and the straightforward nature of the text make it a great read for reluctant readers.


Stephanie Johnson is a graduate of the Master of Library and Information Studies Program from the University of Alberta.

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

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