CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 4 . . . . October 20, 2000
Max nodded and stood, waiting. As Grandpa Garnet got up, he stretched and then slipped his arm over Max's shoulder. Max flinched and ducked lightly away, quickly grabbing another stone to skip to hide his embarrassment. He wasn't used to people showing affection. He threw the stone strongly and it skipped once, twice...seven times in all before it disappeared. Then he turned and followed his grandfather back along the path, pulling his sunglasses from his pocket as he did.When Max Bonney's father and stepmother experience marital difficulties, 12-year-old Max and his older sister, Sara, are sent to St. Stephen, New Brunswick, to spend the summer with their paternal grandparents. Max has a number of problems: he blames himself for his parents' breakup, he feels neglected by his father, and he is plagued by nightmares since his biological mother's death. Fortunately, Grandpa Garnet recognizes Max's yearning to be heard and to be understood, and the two "men" form a special bond. When Max starts to have dreams about Samuel de Champlain, who once stayed on nearby Dochet's Island, Grandpa and Max set up a tape recorder on the island as an experiment to see whether they can record voices from the past. (Readers might anticipate that this experiment will work, but that is not the case.) Besides his grandparents, Max makes friends with Caetlin, a girl his own age, and Tran, a Vietnamese-Canadian boy. As the summer unfolds, Max learns a lot about friendship, racism and human relationships, and, as a result, learns a lot about himself in the process.
The story flows smoothly from start to finish. Boyd paints a warm, but realistic, picture of life in a small town and writes honestly about the trials and tribulations of adolescence. The dialogue between the younger characters is written in teens' language while the narrative is descriptive and fluent. Though the title and the blurb on the back cover suggest that Max's interest in Champlain will be significant to the plot, references to Champlain's hardships in New Brunswick are infrequent. In fact, the story would still be strong without any mention of Champlain at all.
An honest portrait of a young boy's coming to terms with himself, this book will strike a chord with teens. Boyd has a winner here.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.