________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 4. . . .September 28, 2012


Hook Up. (SideStreets).

Kim Firmston.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2012.
151 pp., pbk., hc. & Ebook, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.), $8.95 (Ebook).
ISBN 978-1-4594-0029-0 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-4594-0030-6 (hc.),
ISBN 978-1-4594-0031-3 (Ebook).

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.




"Silas is going to land his ass back in jail," Jarrod says, taping off a star shape on the gas tank.

"Yeah, I agree. "He's always looking for the next scam."

"And you…" Jarrod says, stopping to take a gulp of his coffee," you need to grow up, especially if you're going to have a kid."

"I do what I want," I counter.

"Humph," Jarrod grunts and goes back to taping. "Man up, dude. Stop waiting for your family to point you in the right direction."

"Easy for you to say, your dad never calls your grandparents on you like my mom does."

"He doesn't have a reason to," Jarrod says, cutting the tape carefully with a utility knife. "I don't get beat up stealing cars."

We sit in silence, listening to the traffic and early-morning birds outside the window. "I'm looking for a job today," I announce.

Jarrod looks up. "With that face? Good luck."


Although 17-year-old Cody Many wounds has been in trouble before, he is determined to keep his nose clean, study well enough to get into university and excel at jiu-jitsu. But he sure does like girls. And sex. As he's reconnecting with old friends Jarrod and Silas, Cody manages to evade his gossipy, loving, Tsuu T'ina nation family and begin a hot relationship with Miranda, the twin sister of his jiu-jitsu partner. And then he gets the text that no teenage boy wants: Miranda is pregnant. Feeling attacked on many fronts, Cody is horrified that Miranda not only blames him for the pregnancy but also is planning an abortion. Cody stumbles into some bad decisions as he mulls over his future, and he eventually lands in the arms of former girlfriend Carly Yellow Horse. A babysitting evening with her makes him realize how much work parenting would be. Cody's wise Uncle Tom helps him to accept his family's support and to decide to stay in Calgary for university. After all, Cody thinks, there are pretty cute girls there

     This short Lorimer "Sidestreet" series novel is aimed at struggling high school readers. However, the characters jump off the page, energetically engaging the reader. Cody is the epitome of masculine bravado and determination to do well. He copes with in-your-face racism, a prying cousin and an immature trickster friend Silas who attracts trouble like bees to honey. Cody has summoned up the self-control to excel at jiu-jitsu for over a year. Inwardly, Cody scorns his friend Jarrod's seeming lack of ambition but is self-centred enough to misunderstand his friend's motives. Although Cody presents with a know-it-all attitude, he is woefully ignorant about condom use, pregnancy and abortion. Miranda's fury with Cody's behaviour, her uninhibited sexual desire and her courageous decision to have an abortion and say goodbye to Cody will attract female readers of all sorts. Carly also initiates sex with Cody, but her down-to-earth attitude, her capacity for forgiveness and her ability to handle children will resonate with all readers.

     Cody's friends are not just secondary characters – they introduce the trickster character (Silas) who is always causing mischief, and the teen (Jarrod) who re-arranges his life to manage his father's depression. Cody's supportive family idealizes the traditional native family who are always there to help, even while they tease and gossip.

     Without lecturing or telling, Firmston addresses many current issues of high interest to teens (sex, pregnancy, abortion, post-secondary planning, friendships and parents). The abortion issue is particularly well-handled as Miranda presents Cody with the position of a pregnant girl and he argues his anti-abortion views. The dialogue between them is up-to-date, sharp and realistic, as it is with all the characters.

     Although Hook Up is set in Calgary, it could be any large city, and urban teens will recognize the transit system and the mall atmosphere.

Hook Up will be a welcome addition to high-school libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Joan Marshall is a Winnipeg, MB, bookseller.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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