CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 4. . . September 29, 2017
Sydney Hart’s whole life has changed since leaving Burke Academy. She used to spend all her free time dancing; now she finds herself spending her time busking in order to raise the money to attend art camp. When an onlooker notices Sydney’s performances and presents her with an opportunity to win her way back into Burke, Sydney is faced with a decision: go the safe route that is most likely to help her get back in, or be the performance artist she wants to be?
Mere Joyce’s Getting the Brush Off is an excellent new addition to the “Orca Limelights” series, one that I added to the fiction order for my intermediate school library before I even hit the halfway point. It’s a combination of light-hearted and emotional, with moments of both drama and humour sprinkled evenly throughout the story. The opening pages were probably the best in the book, grabbing my attention from the beginning. I also appreciated the timelessness of the piece; while there were a few mentions of cell phones and other technologies throughout, overall it’s a book that will still make sense to readers twenty years from now.
The character development in this novel is very well-balanced. Joyce gives us all we need to know about Sydney Hart and the people in her life without overwhelming the story. In a novel that hovers around 110 pages, this is important. We need to know our characters but not at the risk of overtaking the plot. Joyce really finds the balance here. Sydney’s friends – the colourful, quirky Lush and the kind-hearted, supportive Jorge – are given just enough depth to make them interesting but not so much that we lose Sydney’s story (that said, I would absolutely read a book with Lush and Jorge as the main characters. There is definitely a story to be told there!). The vicious Miranda Wakefield is given enough page time to fuel the feud but not enough to make the story more about the girls’ fight than about Sydney’s personal victory.
At its core, that’s what this book really is. Getting the Brush Off is a story about a girl overcoming self-doubt in order to get where she wants to be while still staying true to who she wants to be. When I grab an Orca title, I expect a few things: fast pace, interesting storyline, clear writing, good message, and an overall quick read. Getting the Brush Off delivers on all these, and I look forward to adding it to my school library’s collection.
Allison Giggey is a teacher-librarian at an intermediate school in Prince Edward Island.
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This Creative Commons license allows you to download the review and share it with others as long as you credit the CM Association. You cannot change the review in any way or use it commercially.
Commercial use is available through a contract with the CM Association. This Creative Commons license allows publishers whose works are being reviewed to download and share said CM reviews provided you credit the CM Association.