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.

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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

Ten: Living in Wartime

Whether one is living under the threat of invasion, or waiting at home to hear what happened in last night’s battle, living in a country at war places new stresses on anyone old enough to understand. Supplies are more expensive, or simply not available. Friends and family members risk their lives, and perhaps you are called upon to do the same. People are more suspicious, the truth–both about what’s happening and why it’s happening–can be elusive, and even the end of the war rarely promises a return to the way things were. This week’s Ten looks at war from the perspective of the home front, of refugees, of combatants, of rebels, and of civilians caught in the middle of a war they didn’t choose.

My Bonny Light Horseman by L.A. Meyer
The sixth of the Jacky Faber books, this story finds Jacky under cover in France. Though initially posted in a brothel (where a bit of creativity gets her out of actually serving any customers), Jacky soon gets herself off the sidelines and into the thick of things on Napoleon’s battlefield. Though Jacky thrills to adventure, an unexpected encounter with an old acquaintance allows her to voice her ambivalence toward war and violence. Continue reading