CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 7. . . .October 20, 2017
Heavy Freight. (Orca Soundings).
Victoria, BC: Orca, November, 2017.
163 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1475-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1476-9 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1477-6 (epub).
Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.
Review by Christina Pike.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
"Isn't this some hard cheese?" Stone said. "You being the shitehawk down there and me all cozy and safe up here till the fifth arrives to rescue me from you and your guns."
"No guns here. We're not idiots."
Stone said, “That's not what they'll hear from me, you manky git."
"Gonna rip out that tongue of yours," the voice said.
Stone laughed. He knew the dog was now protection of sorts. "Fine with me, mate."
The van door began to open. The police dog made a scramble to the sound. The door slammed shut again, and another couple of f-bombs drifted out from both windows.
Yeah. The dog was great protection. Ironic in a delicious way.
Stone turned his attention back to the ladder. It was just held in place by bungee cords. Easy enough to release, if he needed to. But he wouldn't need to. Not a chance the two in the van would want to be around when the VPD arrived.
The van's engine started.
Exactly what Stone had expected. He grinned. Nothing like a plan falling into place.
Brouwer’s Heavy Freight tells the story of 15-year-old Maxwell Strong who lives in East Hastings, BC, and his quest to find the father who abandoned him as a child. Max, who has been called Stone his entire life, has decided to hitch a ride on a train to Vancouver to find his father. Stone has to leave town because he is afraid his past shoplifting, drug dealing and more recently hit and run are going to catch up to him. He has made some very angry enemies in his quest to outrun the police and the K-9 dog chasing him. While running from the police and K9 dog, Stone jumps on top of a van containing some very suspicious occupants. The "Van Dudes", as Stones calls them, brake hard and trying to dislodge Stone from the van. They fail and, when they try again, Stone has released one of the bungee cords from the ladder on top of the van so that, when they brake hard, the ladder would tumble forward into the path of the van. When the Van Dudes jump out of the vehicle, leaving it running, Stone jumps in and, even though he does not know how to drive, tries to make his get away. He fails, hitting one of the Van Dudes, and then jumps out and makes haste running. Seeing a freight training starting to move out, Stone picks up speed and attempts to jump onto the moving train. Just as he is close to falling off, a hand reaches out to pull him into the boxcar. Stone finds an ally in Train Dude, who turns out to be a hero named Joseph Nelson who had rescued kids from a fire without any regard for his own safety. Since the accident, Train Dude, who suffered multiple burns to his face and body, has been riding the train doing good deeds to those in need. He befriends Stone, trying to teach him how to survive on his own and remain a good person.
Heavy Freight begins as a novel about what makes up a family. The main character, Max Stone, takes care of his mother and himself even though he is still in school. It is also a novel about addiction as Stone's mother battles a drug problem, and it’s about abandonment because Stone's father left his family when Stone was very young. Finally, it is about friendship, right and wrong and heroism.
A good read.
Christina Pike is the principal of Macdonald Drive Junior High in St. John's, NL.
© CM Association
University of Manitoba
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