CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 17 . . . . April 28, 2006
Wired. (Orca Currents).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2005.
104 pp., pbk., $9.95.
Snowboarding - Juvenile fiction.
Theft - Juvenile fiction.
Detective and mystery stories.
Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.
Review by Carole Marion.
It was all about speed when you skied for coach Steve. You had to reach top speed if you wanted to finish first. Even breaking both legs like Garth had did not sway Coach from pushing all his athletes to reach top speed, but it certainly terrified Keegan … because Keegan could not allow himself to get into any danger that would threaten his safety. His parents would not survive it. Not after what happened to his little brother. Not after Keegan let it happen.
Speed. When I reached full speed my skis would be moving at 110 kilometers an hour. I would be standing on those skis. This meant I, too, would be moving 110 kilometers an hour. That is almost as fast as people fall from airplanes. Before they open their parachute.
I didn’t have a parachute. Worse, skis are about as wide as a credit card and not much thicker. As a downhill skier, my job is to stand on those thin pieces of plastic and metal and make sure I don’t fall.
What I really don’t like to think about is that 110 kilometers an hour is the same as traveling thirty meters a second. My friend Mike, who likes to scare me, figured that out. Worse, after figuring it out he told me. So now I know that in the time it takes for me to breathe in and out my body will shoot the length of a football field.
At that speed, if I fall off those thin flat pieces of plastic and metal I will spend the rest of my life in a hospital. Eating jelly. Drinking warm milk. Getting yelled at by big ugly nurses …
I wasn’t going to let anyone know I was afraid. Not Keegan Bishop, provincial champion downhill skier. No one was supposed to know my biggest secret …
I cut left to miss a boulder sticking out of the snow. I ducked beneath a branch. I hit a jump at freeway speed. It launched me into the air at least one story off the ground. I leaned forward and made sure my skis stayed straight …
As I cut into a steep turn, I saw it. But couldn’t believe it.
Wire. Black wire stretched between two trees at waist height. I was flashing toward it at thirty meters per second. Hitting the wire at that speed would slice me in two.
Angry and confused, Keegan is determined to find out who wants to harm him. After paying a visit to Garth in the hospital, he realizes that his teammate may also have been harmed by wire stretched across a ski slope between two trees. And smug, irritating Sid Halloway, the best snow-boarder around, might have something to do with it. What a shame that newcomer Connie Holt, who seemed quite willing to help Keegan solve the mystery, is cozying up to Sid like lint to Velcro.
Popular author Sigmund Brouwer has packed lots of details in this quick read addition to the “Orca Currents” series for reluctant readers. As the story is written in the first person, the reader not only knows Keegan’s every thought as he struggles to solve the mystery, and also quickly realizes that Keegan is not the coward that he has convinced himself he is. He has become a master at suppressing his feelings and placating his grieving parents. He carries a burden that no 15-year-old should have to bear:
Whenever I was late, my parents panicked. It hurt them most when I was late for supper though, because it reminded them of something that was always hiding beneath the surface of their lives.
Mom and Dad had been married for nearly twenty years. Their grad photos showed them bright and smiling, but now they mainly looked tired.
Dad looked from the clock to me. He shook his head and frowned when he noticed I was limping. He put a finger to his lip, silently telling me not to say a word about it. Like I needed a reminder.
“Hi, Keegan,” Mom said, putting the spaghetti bowl in the center of the table. “How did everything go today on the ski hill?
”I sat down. I knew the answer Dad always wanted me to give.
“Great,” I said.
“No falls?” she asked.
“None,” I said. My leg was beginning to hurt, but I would force myself not to limp when I left the table, in case she was watching. “You know me,” I said. “I never push too hard ...”I did not feel bad about lying to her. She wanted me to lie. She wanted to believe my lies. Really. She always seemed so breakable, and I think that’s how she dealt with life.
“Well,” Dad said. “Didn’t your Mom make another great meal today?”
“She sure did,” I said. Mom patted my hand. I patted her back.
Yes. We were the perfect family in the perfect household. The laundry was always clean and folded. The floors were always vacuumed. The dishes were always done as soon as we were finished eating. No one yelled at anyone, ever. We only watched PG movies …
Yes. We were perfect. Except for one thing. There should have been a fourth person eating with us.
Though this novel is brief, the action is fast-paced, and the story filled with enough details about skiing and snow-boarding that young teens who are themselves involved in these sports will find it appealing.
Carole Marion, a Public Service Librarian with Calgary Public Library’s Shawnessy Branch, has been working with youth and their caregivers for over sixteen years.
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