________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 8 . . . . October 24, 2014


The Big Apple Effect. (Orca Currents).

Christy Goerzen.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2014.
130 pp., pbk., hc., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0738-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0739-6 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0740-2 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0741-9 (epub).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Beth Wilcox.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



"You look amazing," I said.

"So do you," Anna said, admiring my vintage yellow and white shift dress. I'd bought it especially for the trip.

"Anna, do you realize that in five hours we'll be in New York City?"

"I can't believe it's actually happening," she said.

We whooped and danced around the waiting area. We didn't care if people stared.

Ten minutes later, we were in our seats on the airplane. I cracked open my notebook.

"Let's go over our lists again!" I said, holding up my opened notebook for Anna to see.

"Uh, lists?" Anna said, glancing at my notebook.

"You know how we've been talking for months about all the things we want to do in New York? Don't you have it written down?"

"No," Anna said simply.

"Oh," I said, disappointed. I'd spent hours putting my list together.

"My list is all up here," Anna said, tapping her temple.

"Okay, well can I read you my list again?" I said with a small squeal. "I've added stuff to it since last time."

"You mean since you read it to me last night?" she asked.

"Yup," I said.

Christy Goerzen's latest novel for the "Orca Currents" series, The Big Apple Effect, follows the amusing journey of artsy Vancouver teenager Maddie over the course of her glamorous week-long dream vacation in New York. Thinking she is finally free of her self-centred "New Age" mother, Maddie is excited to explore the city and accomplish her 134 item to-do list with her best friend, Anna, and Anna's brother, Thomas, who acts as the girls' chaperone and host. When Maddie's mother Lynn suddenly shows up in New York to celebrate Maddie's fifteenth birthday, Maddie is horrified and decides to sabotage Lynn's trip.

      Initially, the novel feels like light junior chick-lit; Maddie's first-person narration is heavily fashion conscious, and the plot includes plenty of shopping. The real substance of the novel comes from the conflicts that occur when individuals do not take into account the desires of their loved ones. This is primarily seen in the difficult relationship between Maddie and Lynn. This is supposed to be Maddie's first trip away from her eccentric mother who generally takes Maddie on "adventures" that ignore her daughter's interests and wishes. Maddie is understandably upset when Lynn shows up in New York, and many young readers will sympathize with Maddie's frustration and her desire for independence.

      Maddie focuses on how irritating and embarrassing her mother is, without fully acknowledging her own cruel behaviour towards Lynn. However, there is complexity in the characters that encourages the reader to reflect on Maddie's critical attitude. This is evident when Maddie takes control of Anna's trip without considering her friend's wishes. In adding this layer to the conflict, the author prompts readers to judge Lynn's behaviour and motivations in light of their understanding of Maddie's mindset when she acted selfishly towards Anna.

      The Big Apple Effect is Goerzen's second novel featuring Maddie and Lynn for the "Orca Currents" high interest-low vocabulary series. While the novel is a sequel to Farmed Out, readers unfamiliar with the previous story will have no problem starting with The Big Apple Effect and will be left hoping for a sequel after a possible love interest and developments in Maddie's art career are introduced late in the novel.


Beth Wilcox is a graduate from the MA in Children's Literature program at the University of British Columbia and is currently teaching in Prince George, BC.

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

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.
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