CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 8. . . October 27, 2017
As per the above excerpt, Spencer, 18, is in his first year of college and works part time as a Starbucks barista. He also lives with his parents, Jer and Deb (his younger brother being temporarily out of the picture). Scratch runs the Fifteenth Street Posse, of which neither Spencer’s parents nor the police approve. However, Scratch has decided to ‘diversify’ and manage a bluegrass/rap band, BlueGrap; so, he offers Spencer a thousand dollars to make them a promotional music video in just 10 days. Before agreeing, Spencer wants to hear the band. To do this, he has to go to a bar. When his dad insists on tagging along since Spencer is underage, Spencer asks him to pretend he’s a film professor, not his father. At the bar, Jer – a music aficionado – makes a much better first impression than Spencer on the members of BlueGrap and Scratch. From then on, they all want Jer, who knows nothing about making videos, to be their video producer. Instead of telling them the truth, Spencer continues the deceit and pretends to relay Jer’s instructions in order to make the band members do what he wants for the video. At the same time, he makes sure that his father doesn’t actually meet with BlueGrap a second time by telling them that Jer has a heart problem. Spencer spends an intense few days filming with the band in various locations, from a rehearsal studio, to a cottage, to a green room, to a graffiti filled alley in Toronto. On day nine, just after Spencer tells the band members that Jer died, one of them sees him walking along the street, looking very much alive.
Spencer has a convincing, good relationship with his parents. He uses “care and discretion” in deciding how open to be with them about some aspects of his life and would rather figure things out on his own than let them solve his problems. But, he takes a musical tip from Jer, and at another time thinks, I may be channeling Deb here. … Don’t you hate it when your mom’s advice turns out to be right? When it comes to making the video, he definitely has his own, unique point of view (pov). With some deftly chosen details and authentic dialogue, Spencer, his parents, Scratch, and the members of BlueGrap not only come to life, they practically jump off the page. Readers also get not only some insight into how a low budget music video is made but also some realistic sketches of Toronto and cottage country northeast of the city.
Staunton’s writing is tight, the pacing is perfect, and the plot has some nice surprises.
POV is another great addition to Orca’s “Limelights” series. While it may be intended for reluctant readers, POV will likely be enjoyed by all.
Karen Rankin is a Toronto, ON, teacher and author of children’s stories.
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