________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 15. . . .December 16, 2017


Dead to Me. (SideStreets).

Cristy Watson.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer & Co., 2016.
182 pp., trade pbk. & epub, $12.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4594-1157-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4594-1158-6 (epub).

Grades 7-11 / Ages 12-16.

Review by Karyn Miehl.

*** /4


The YA novel Dead to Me, by Cristy Watson, is a quick read. The protagonist, 16-year-old Logan Gomez, first enters the story at the age of 12 in the novel's prologue. Here, a young Logan celebrates his 12th birthday with his first beer, offered to him by his uncle. Also in the prologue, Logan learns that this same uncle was responsible for the death of Logan's father years before. Jumping to the first chapter, Logan, now age 16, gets suspended from school for fighting. The reader also learns that Logan is still angry about his uncle's alleged involvement in Logan's dad's death, and that Logan drinks as a way to cope with this anger. Subsequent chapters include Logan skipping class, making out with a pretty girl, breaking and entering, finding a dead body. Logan comes across as the typical 'bad boy', including having "dangerous good looks" (p. 27) and attitude to match.

Chapter 2: Surprise Date It's my first day back at school after my suspension and I'm heading down the hall. The usual suspects are hanging around their lockers. I know they'll push my buttons because I have unfinished business with them. But another suspension will get me expelled. I don't want to risk that over these assholes. I detour down the hall that connects to the library. I hardly ever walk this way.

By the door to the library there are four girls in a huddle. They look like they are the same age as me, but I can tell from their smartphones and clothes that they have money. As they point at me I'm able to catch a few of their whispered words. They are saying something about a 'gang' and 'he's trouble'. I even catch the word 'dare'.

As I saunter toward them, I figure if one of them is going to take up the dare, I hope it's the totally hot one. Her long dark hair rolls over her shoulders and down her back as she leans in to whisper with her friends. Then she looks up at me. She smiles as I get close. My feet stop in front of her and I grin back.

     The character of Logan does turn out to be dynamic, although his change comes quickly (and somewhat unbelievably to experienced readers, maybe less so to reluctant readers). He is a character that teens will relate to as he engages in activities that would interest them, has a girlfriend, toes the line with his behaviour (but is still loyal and helpful to his mom), and redeems himself in the end. Logan is also described as being "half Mexican" (p. 12), and the text includes a few Spanish words or phrases (in italics, to indicate that they are words in a foreign language) that might also interest teen readers.

     Dead To Me is clearly intended for reluctant readers as the novel is fast-paced, time progresses quickly in the story, and the chapters are fairly short. Each chapter is titled, and most chapters begin after some time has passed since the previous chapter (whether that is a day or a few weeks).

     Overall, Dead To Me is one that reluctant tween or teen readers will be able to read with interest and with ease.


Karyn Miehl, a mother of two and a secondary school English teacher, lives in Kingsville, ON.

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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