CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 12. . . .November 25, 2016
Nate has had a difficult year. His mother was in a serious skiing accident which has left her wheelchair bound. His father left shortly after. In addition, Nate’s best friend of eight years, Lug, has moved off the Island to Vancouver. While he has made a few friends since starting high school, he hasn’t developed any close relationships. That’s why, when the opportunity presents itself, he takes the ferry to Vancouver to spend the day at the mall with Lug. Nate’s mother thinks Lug is a bad influence and has forbidden Nate from visiting him, so Nate lies and tells his mother that he is spending his Saturday at an out-of-town track and field tournament.
Unfortunately, Nate proves his mother right when Lug convinces him to use his resemblance to a famous celebrity for profit by promising girls at the mall work as extras in an upcoming shoot in exchange for a processing fee. While Nate quickly regrets his actions, he develops a friendship with a girl at the mall whose perspective of life makes him feel even more dishonest. Unfortunately, Lug has found a way to blackmail him to keep up the act. Will Nate be able to do the right thing?
Written in first person, Shatterproof explores issues such as peer pressure, friendship, divorce, disabilities and physical appearances through Nate’s relationships with his parents and friends. While Nate demonstrates compassion to his mother and is mindful of the difficulties those who have physical limitations experience, his awareness increases upon meeting Spring at the mall. Spring’s face was burned in an accident, and, while she is aware that it is her character that matters, she still regularly receives comments from strangers regarding her external appearance in a way that shocks Nate. Additionally, Nate must determine how to interact with his father with whom he is deeply disappointed in but also misses. However, the most prominent theme in Shatterproof is the peer pressure Nate experiences from his best friend Lug. Nate needed a friend to provide relief from his troubles at home. Instead, Nate’s day with Lug has led him into circumstances that he struggles to get himself out of, particularly after having lied to his parents and his new friend Spring.
Some elements of the plot might strike the reader as a bit over the top. That Nate so closely resembles a celebrity that he is able to convince girls at the mall to spend money to sign up as extras on a television set is difficult to conceive. Additionally, the author’s presentation of Lug as a source of unrelenting selfishness is less than subtle. However, the character of Nate and his experiences of regret and concern will likely be relatable to readers who, themselves, have made errors in judgement and have struggled to find their back. In particular, the fear Nate has having broken his parents’ trust and expectations is quite understandable. Yet the message that is conveyed regarding external appearances, while important and true, at times reads heavy-handed and moralistic.
As the whole plot of Shatterproof takes place over one day, the pacing is slower than an average book. However, this does allow for readers to have a greater appreciation of Nate’s thoughts, emotions and decision making process. On the whole, the language is appropriate both for the intended audience and the characters in the story.
Recommended with Reservations.
Meredith Harrison Lim is a MLIS graduate working for the Federal Government in the National Capital Region.
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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.