In July of this year, I joined the Canadian Reading Challenge, a commitment to read 13 books set in Canada or by a Canadian author, by July 1, 2011. I recently finished two that I would like to share with you. Consider these mini-reviews of books going towards my challenge goal.
Published by Putnam in May 2010
Sixteen-year-old Molly finds herself on an adventure of a lifetime in the year 2041, after the Collapse, during which the “big governments” seized the last of the oil in the world and everything changed for Canadian and American citizens. Molly is a resident of a farming island off the coast of western Canada, but she is chosen by her family to rescue her grandparents living in Oregon, and bring them back to live with her. All of this is made difficult when her grandfather refuses to come with her and she runs out of money. She must befriend a member of a local crime organization and put her farming skills to good use in order to return to her family.
Molly is an extremely likable character, being brave, kind, affectionate and musically talented. The fact that she literally risks her life to save not only her sick grandmother, but also her pregnant mother, speaks volumes about the value she finds in the lives of others. The novel follows her fast-paced adventure well, with romance, family ties and adoption all in the mix. However, the world that we find her living in seems to have some holes and discrepancies. I found it difficult to follow through the author’s descriptions, and was quite confused about what exactly the “Collapse” was. For instance, how would her sister be planning a huge wedding when it seems as if people barely have money for nutritious food? Also, why would her brother work at a winery when people are paying big money for imported alcohol? While I was distracted by these bits and pieces of the novel, I enjoyed Molly and Spill as characters and found their tale one of courage and inspiration.
by Abby McDonald
Published by Candlewick in April 2010
Seventeen-year-old Jenna is pumped to leave her comfortable Jersey life and her environmentalist group to put her plans and ideas into action in the Canadian wilderness. As she begins her summer living with her godmother, helping her start a bed & breakfast and making friends with the locals, she realizes just how different life is across the continent. This coming-of-age novel highlights the need to solid identity and true friendships.
I feel like I would have appreciated this book a bit more if I would have read it during the summer, right after it was published. Reading about Jenna’s experiences learning how to climb rocks, mountain bike and canoe were very entertaining. I could easily follow her realization of her true self.
While the pacing of the novel made it a bit difficult to follow at times (sometimes days drug on, while at other times a month passed in a few pages), Jenna’s friendships are worth reading about. And being a bit of a geography nerd, I was confused at the fact that she would go swimming and sunbathe (and where, for a week or so, they are “baking” in the heat wave) in an area of Canada where the summer high temperatures barely reach 85 degrees. Just a minor detail, and correct me if I’m wrong, but it bothered me.
All in all, great summer read, wonderful coming-of-age novel, likable characters. Check it out!