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


Oracle. (Orca Currents).

Alex Van Tol.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2012.
114 pp., pbk., hc., pdf & epub,
$9.95 pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0132-5 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-4598-0133-2 (hc.),
ISBN 978-1-4598-0134-9 (pdf),
ISBN 978-1-4598-0135-6 (epub).

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Elaine Fuhr.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Review Copy.



Kamryn's eyes drift to the trophy on the bookcase. There's only one on display at any time, even though there are more than twelve tucked away in various closets. Pretty soon we'll need to build a shed to house all of Kyle's achievements.

" Who's the basketball star?"

" That'd be my brother."

Her eyes cut to me. " I didn't know you had a brother."
I shrug. That would be because I intentionally didn't tell you, I think.

" How old is he?"

" Sixteen." I kick off my shoes and head down the hallway toward my bedroom. Kamryn follows. The door to Kyle's room is closed.

" Where does he go to school?"

" LaMontagne. Senior campus." For whatever reason, our school is split into two separate buildings: the middle grades and the senior high. It's a relief not to have to share space with Kyle all day. I get enough of that every evening.

" What's his name?"

I sigh. " Kyle."

Here it comes.

" Kyle…Roberts?" The words come out as a shriek.
" Same one."

Kamryn's hands fly up to cover her mouth. " Oh my god, I had no idea he was your brother!" She looks like a kid who's just spotted Santa Claus filling her stocking with diamonds and PEZ.

I shrug. " Well. Owen Roberts. Kyle Roberts. You know."

" Yeah, but, I…you don't. I mean, you don't look …like him at all, you know?"

" Thanks," I say.

" No, I mean…" Kamryn flaps her hands. She looks around, as though Kyle might appear from behind a secret door. " Is he home?"

Why did I bother? What good did I think it would do to use the Oracle to try to force Kamryn to like me?


Owen Roberts is crushing on Kamryn. She's gorgeous and smart but doesn't know that Owen is alive because she has a crush on this cool senior high guy named Kyle Roberts. Yes, Owen's brother, and Owen can't understand how she can like a manipulative jerk like Kyle. Owen simply must come up with a plan to show Kamryn that he is a much better catch than his brother and would treat her like a girl should be treated. Finally, a plan forms, and Owen's best friend, Hannah, is willing to help him. He develops a relationship blog that he and Hannah name Oracle. They have decided that, like an oracle, they will give advice in the form of a prophecy or a vision, to students who need some help in the love department, and he hopes that he can get Kamryn to ask a question on his site because then he can let her know that Kyle is not the guy for her.

     Alex Van Tol has written a novel for young people that is an accurate view of the varied relationships that teens encounter. It's all there: a strained relationship with an older sibling that may include jealousy, a girl-boy friendship between two kids who grew up together, and the shy crushes of young people just beginning to learn about themselves and the opposite sex. It even speaks of the authoritative relationship between students and their teachers in school. But textbook this is not. Oracle is a warm, sensitive look at the difficult relationships that our youth must face as they grow into adulthood. I truly enjoyed reading this novel and thinking back on my time teaching this age group. I clearly remember my students going through very similar situations as do the young people in this novel. Teens will identify with the characters that have been portrayed here. I have no doubt Oracle will be a popular read.

Highly Recommended.

Elaine Fuhr is a former teacher of elementary and middle school in Alberta.

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

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