________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 5 . . . . October 28, 2005


On the Game. (SideStreets).

Monique Polak.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2005.
178 pp., pbk. & cl., $6.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55028-876-8 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55028-877-6 (cl.).

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Christina Pike.

**** /4


They ate lobster. The meat had already been loosened from the shell, so they didn't have to crack their lobsters open. When Richie bit into the tail, he squirted Yolande with lobster juice. She used her napkin to wipe the salty brine from her cheek.

"They say shellfish turns girls on," Ritchie observed, as he signaled the waiter to pour more champagne.

"It does?" Yolanda asked, giggling. For a second, the tips of her ears burned. If Étienne was her boyfriend, wasn't it wrong to be talking to some other guy about what turned girls on?

When they stood up to go, Yolande's legs wobbled beneath her. "Not used to champagne, are you, little lady?" Ritchie asked, wrapping his arm around her waist and letting her lean on his shoulder.

They were the only ones in the elevator. They'd left the convertible with the parking attendant outside, so Yolande was surprised when Ritchie pressed the button for the eighteenth floor.

"Where are we going?"  Her voice sounded to her like it was coming from far away.

"To my room," Ritchie said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.


On The Game tells the story of 15-year-old Yolanda and her first experience with love. Étienne, her boyfriend, is 21, and he likes to buy her expensive gifts. For the first time, Yolanda is in love and is willing to do anything to keep Étienne happy. Even when he asks the impossible, Yolanda cannot say no. This behaviour begins her spiral toward a world completely out of control.

     Polak has created a story that is entrenched with the reality surrounding teenagers today. More and more stories are emerging of teenagers forced into lives of prostitution. These teens, like the main character, do not believe they have a choice. On the Game is a sad tale with a happy ending which raises the bar to make the story fictional and more palatable to its readers. Unlike the reality experienced by many of the teens upon whom this story is based, the end result is not the same. Yolanda has friends who can help her escape and a mother who will enable her to heal.

      On the Game is a story for every teenager, both male and female.  For the male, the novel teaches the lesson of the need to take care of other's feelings, and for the female, it shows that it is sometimes necessary to ask for help if you do not think you can say no.

     A book that, once it is started, is difficult to put down. 

Highly Recommended.

Christina Pike is presently seconded to the Department of Education of Newfoundland and Labrador.


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

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