One Way by Norah McClintock

One Way cover

I have the crazy idea that if I just hang on, everything will be okay

It’s halfway through lunch period when Kenzie rides the wrong way up a one-way street. While he is not the first person to do this, Kenzie’s choice gets him in big trouble today. One moment he’s on his bike, the next he’s on his back, on top of something that he’s hit. As it turns out, this “something” is his ex-girlfriend Stassi.

While Kenzie comes out the accident with a few bruises and scratches, Stassi has unfortunately suffered trauma to her head and despite the immediate medical action that she receives, remains unconscious. The police come talk to Kenzie, and it soon becomes clear that everyone believes that he had a reason to hurt Stassi. He even begins to doubt himself. Was this just a freak accident, or something more?

Canadian author Norah McClintock prompts us to stop and think about daily actions and decisions that have the potential to put us or others in difficult situations. Those who like suspense and fast paced action, but prefer simpler vocabulary and a shorter read will enjoy reading this high interest novel. In consideration of the complexity of the story’s situation,  it is also one that I particularly recommend as a Young Adult read. Whether on road safety, grudges or unintentional hurt, the novel is sure to bring up some interesting discussions and has potential to be a good read-aloud in the classroom or at home.

Read other reviews from the 49th Shelf and the Canadian Review of Materials.


Out by Sandra Diersch

ImageIn light of the University of Alberta’s first institutionally-supported Pride Week, this posting showcases a high interest, low difficulty (Hi-Lo) book, Out.

With one year left in high school, good-looking student, Alex, has lucked out with a beautiful girlfriend, a part-time job and good friends to hang out with. Life seems perfect until the day he is caught off guard witnessing his father’s friend and church leader having an affair. What’s more, his brother Mark has started to change. Not only does he notice his brother exhibiting a different demeanor, he has become increasingly quiet and tied to home. It is only later that Alex finds out first hand, as Mark comes out to him, that his brother identifies as being queer. 

Driven by action, this book provides its readers with a chance to identify with the complexities of the protagonist’s life as he realizes more and more that his understanding of justice needs to be re-examined. We all reach points of time when our rose-coloured glasses come off and we experience the harshness of reality and disappointment in the adult world. This book addresses a time when Alex begins to see the gaps between what he had expected to see in life and what really is out there. It offers readers an opportunity to re-examine life’s hard lessons and experiences of disappointment and anguish.

Note: As this book deals primarily with the experiences of Alex rather than his newly out brother, Mark, the emphasis is on the initial impact of such a revelation. Due to the short length of this book, it does not allow for a full resolution or coming to terms between the characters. It provides a very relateable entry-point for someone going through a similar experience. It may also help those who are newly-out in anticipating the reactions that they may encounter from those around them.

A review of this book: CM: A Reviewing Journal of Canadian Materials for Young People

See the author’s official website

To find other titles dealing with homosexuality in YA literature, a reliable resource is the Stonewall Book awards sponsored by the queer round table found within the American Library Association (ALA) website. While these awards feature multiple categories, covering a variety of audiences and intentions, they also celebrate outstanding works of YA and Children’s literature dealing with the GLBTQ experience.

Descent into Paradise by Vincent Karle

Descent into Paradise coverZaher is Afghani, but everyone knows he hates the Taliban. Fellow student Martin reports Zaher’s rough start in Paradise and his gradual acceptance by his new classmates. A drug bust at school throws the students’ flexibility into contrast with the prejudice of several members of the local police force. Zaher is falsely charged with drug dealing and his family is deported to the country from which they have sought asylum. Martin, whose marijuana is used to frame Zaher, describes an investigation marked by mistreatment and blackmail. When he is released, too late to help Zaher, Martin returns to school convinced that he is responsible and determined to find some way of fighting injustice as a means of making up for what he has done.

Descent into Paradise focuses on a teen distrustful of authority figures and casual about breaking rules that he believes are unnecessary. His experiences demonstrate that his actions have consequences, though readers will likely find the events described too extreme to be really believable. However, the story also suggests that there are valid places for Martin to direct his rebellious attitude, and that it is possible to distinguish between trustworthy and untrustworthy authority figures. The novella is one half of one of Annick Press’s Single Voice books. Each book contains two brief stories which address complex, timely issues in simple language and large type. Clearly intended for reluctant readers, the Single Voice publications offer considerable substance for thought and even discussion while keeping the presentation easily manageable.

Annick recruited bloggers to review the Single Voice novellas. Descent into Paradise was reviewed by theGreen Bean Teen Queen.

You can watch a promotional video for the Single Voice project here

Flying Feet by James McCann

Though Jinho, a second generation Korean-Canadian, acts the part of a “good student” for his non-English speaking mother, he is also a frustrated teen who has just lost (another!) ImageTae Kwon Do tournament. What’s more, since he broke his opponent’s fingers in the process, he’s been disqualified from playing the sport.

Just when things are worst, he meets and is scouted by Austin, trainer for a free-for-all underground Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) club where there are no rules, weight classes, or referees that would disqualify attacks should they progress too far.

Though Jinho is initially enthralled by the promise of fighting without rules, when the dangerous reality of the sport makes itself clear, he finds it difficult to get out. The only way he can move forward is by coming to terms with what he learned prior to his MMA days and with his original foundations.

Self-realization comes about in different manners. One process of coming to this point can be through the removal of and reuniting with something one took for granted. Only through the personal acceptance, realization and feelings of respect for a big influence in your life, can one truly walk towards the road to independence and restructuring of oneself as a complete whole.  An action packed, highly accessible book title for a more reluctant reader.

Want to know more about the book? Check out the BookTrailer.  Also take a look at the CM: A reviewing journal of Canadian Material for Young People, and or, The Readingjunky’s Reading Roost.

Want to know more about the author? Visit his BlogPage.