CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 5. . . .October 2, 2015
In Foolproof, by Diane Tullson, Daniel is an average 17-year-old concerned with his school, job, and girls. When the charismatic Cyn takes an interest in him, he's disbelieving, but happy to become her boyfriend. They spend their initial dates in her brother's car, crossing the border to shop or buy gas regularly. Eventually, Cyn even invites Daniel to drive her car back and forth across the border to fill up her gas tank on his own. Unfortunately, even as Daniel begins to care more and more deeply for Cyn, he grows suspicious of her. The stories that she tells don't add up, and, when Daniel discovers the car doesn't belong to her brother at all, he begins to wonder which of the stories Cyn has told him are true. As his heart and his head war over his involvement with Cyn, Daniel is also aware of the growing police presence at his high school. A drug related shooting at a nearby park has all of the kids talking, and Cyn seems nervous. Eventually Daniel's worst fears are confirmed as he discovers telltale signs of cross-border drug smuggling on the underside of the car Cyn has him driving. Confronting her makes Daniel realize that, even though he cares too deeply for her to walk away, his trust in Cyn is broken. In an attempt to force Cyn out of the drug-running world, he gets the car she drives impounded by the police. In a moment, Daniel has caught the ire of the higher-ups in the drug smuggling chain. When he realizes he is being followed by the mysterious driver of an SUV, Daniel begins to understand how much danger he has put not only Cyn and himself in, but also his family, including his young niece. In Foolproof’s climax, Cyn is shot in the park near their school by the driver of the SUV. Daniel is left to mourn his girlfriend and try to understand if the girl he initially believed her to be ever existed at all.
Daniel is a likeable and authentic first person narrator. Even if the reader may not make the same choices in his place, Daniel's decisions are understandable, and his thought processes relatable. The characters are credible, and their language and dialogue are, for the most part, believable. Foolproof is well-paced; Tullson skillfully uses the nearly constant action to develop Daniel's character. The story, itself, provides an interesting examination of our willingness to believe lies and to ignore our gut instincts in the face of a threat to our happiness by "the truth". Despite her constant bad choices, Cyn, herself, is not presented as a bad person. She's a complicated individual, capable of lovingly tucking in Daniel's niece at the same time as she uses Daniel as her "fool" in order to deliver the drugs across the border. She seems to genuinely care for Daniel, but she is unable to extricate herself from the drug scene or to prevent herself from constantly lying. It is a testament to Tullson's writing that Cyn remains a figure who is misled, and perhaps deserving of pity, rather than a two dimensional villain by the story's end. Cyn's lies are not the only ones that go examined, however. By the end of the book, Daniel finds himself contemplating the way his young niece is prepared to accept his well-meaning lies regarding Cyn's disappearance from their lives. The nature of truth, lies and our own contentment and happiness, is left appropriately messy and unclear.
Foolproof is part of the “Orca Soundings” series of hi-lo readers. This story suits its purpose perfectly, providing a high-stakes and high-interest story with a lively pace written at a lower reading level. Even those who struggle with their literacy can enjoy reading Foolproof. Though it discusses mature themes, it does not do so in an obscene or inappropriate manner. Tullson's Foolproof would be at home on the shelves of a middle school or high school library.
Devon Galitsky has a literature degree from the University of the Fraser Valley and lives in Chilliwack, BC.
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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.