________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 8 . . . . December 10, 2004


My Time as Caz Hazard. (Orca Soundings).

Tanya Lloyd Kyi.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2004.
103 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55143-319-2.

Subject Headings:
Bullying-Juvenile fiction.
Problem solving-Juvenile fiction.
Children of divorced parents-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.

Review by Jocelyn A. Dimm.

***1/2 /4


"What's a sped?" I asked her, ignoring Psycho Boy's continued stare.

She rolled her eyes. "Special education student," she enunciated, giving me a clear view of her bubble gum. "Welcome to Dogshit Secondary. You can ignore Jaz over there. He's brilliant shouldn't even be here but he's dealing with, like serious management issues." I jumped as Jaz Psycho Boy scraped his chair back a fraction and transferred his glare. The girl with the bubble gum didn't flinch.

She held out her hand for me to shake. It was adorned with spiky silver rings in gothic designs. "I'm Amanda. What nuts-for-brains called you a sped?"

"Some guy named Brad."

"Looks like he just flew his private jet from Hollywood?" she asked.

I nodded.

"Well, don't stress about it. It's not like he's getting into Harvard any time soon. He's the biggest dealer in school."

"Drugs" I said trying not to look shocked. He'd seemed more like an art dealer than a drug dealer.

At the end of grade ten,15-year-old Caz's life takes a different path when she is expelled for punching her boyfriend in the face. This incident promotes Caz's enrollment into Dogwood Senior Secondary, a small school dedicated to students who may need more individualized programs. It's here where she soon discovers she has dyslexia. Once in the "sped" class, Caz hooks up with a girl by the name of Amanda who concentrates more on getting into trouble than staying out of it. Feeling as if her world is falling apart, what with her parents' recent separation and her missing her old school friends, Caz gets caught up in the reckless lifestyle of Amanda. Stealing money, shoplifting, and attacking other students physically and verbally are some of the antics of which Caz finds herself a part. When another "sped," Dodie, whom Caz and Amanda have picked on, commits suicide, Caz is forced to take a long hard look at who she has become.

     Kyi's novel deals with some very serious young adult issues, such as violence, family divorce, and teen suicide. Through Caz's eyes, Kyi explores these powerful issues on a somewhat surface level in this short novel, part of a series which Orca refers to as a new hi-lo series for high school (lower reading levels). Possibly the parameters of the series may have influenced the novel's depth. Although some of the characters are quite stereotyped - the special education teacher being a "smother-mother" type, using terms like "dear" to refer to students - if used in a classroom, this stereotyping may be a topic used to discuss the characters in this novel.

     Another area that might be a bit weak are the terms used by the 15-year-old characters in this novel, such as "nuts-for-brains" and "hot goods," and how realistic or unrealistic these terms are for today's teens.

     Even though the ending is a bit superficial, (Caz seeing the error in her ways and vowing to be a better person), the novel does offer some very realistic situations teens deal with every day and could be used to jump-start more than a few critical discussions.

Highly Recommended.

Jocelyn A. Dimm is a sessional instructor and a PhD Candidate at the University of Victoria where she teaches drama education and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education.

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

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