CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 5. . . .October 7, 2016
Enough. (Orca Soundings).
Mary Jennifer Payne.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2016.
166 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1330-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1331-1 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1332-8 (epub).
Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.
Review by Christina Neigel.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
What the hell have I done? I’ve got classes tomorrow, and a biology exam on Thursday that’s super important. I glance at the clock. It’s nearly one thirty. How is Charlie going to feel when he wakes up and realizes I’m gone? First Dad disappears from his life, and now me.
I lay my head on the table, trying to figure out what to do. There’s no way I can go home tonight. Besides, I’m not going back if Dean’s there. Ever. Tears roll down my cheeks, and I pull my hoodie over my head. No one’s paying attention to me in here anyhow.
Shattered by the loss of her husband, Lizzie’s mother descends into a life of self-destruction. Unfortunately for 15-year-old Lizzie, this means a life of struggle. In addition to looking after her younger brother Charlie, Lizzie acts as the stabilizing force in her volatile household. This is brought to an abrupt end, however, when her mother’s boyfriend, Dean, sexually assaults her. With her mother being unable to be emotionally present for her, Lizzie realizes that there was no one to protect her from further violence, and she decides to flee.
This slice-of-life novel follows Lizzie’s assault and lonely struggle to get help. Her actions precipitate greater strife in her home, shifting the focus of abuse and misery onto her brother and beloved dog, Trixie. The characterization of Lizzie and other supporting characters is reasonably sophisticated and authentic. Taking place in Toronto, this story moves very quickly, generating a feeling of urgency in the reader to see Lizzie’s situation resolved.
Published as part of the “Orca Soundings” series, Enough targets the reluctant reader market, using a larger font and white space as well as a linear, action-focussed plot. Combined with the gritty content and themes that are clearly intended for an older reader (12-15 yrs), this work makes the challenging bridge between accessibility and high interest without compromising the reality of the characters and story. With the story being written from Lizzie’s perspective, readers see her thought processes and, while realistic, there is a missing texture to Lizzie’s thoughts that limits her dimensionality that is the likely by-product of the length and format of the book. A similar compromise is made with the supporting characters.
This realistic work explores issues around domestic violence, the vulnerability of children and teens in such situations, and the struggle for agency among them. In trying to address issues of poverty, race, and gender, the author creates a thought-provoking tale that would be useful for opening up reflection and/or discussion around inclusivity and social struggle. Although targeting reluctant readers, Enough may have additional appeal to those interested in complex social problems.
Christina Neigel is Associate Professor for the Library and Information Technology program at the University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, BC.
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