________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 8 . . . . December 9, 2005


Home Invasion. (Orca Soundings).

Monique Polak.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2005.
105 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55143-482-2.

Subject headings:
Robbery-Juvenile fiction.
Stepfathers-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Joanne Peters.

*** /4


I was dribbling my basketball down the sidewalk when I noticed a telephone company van parked outside Patsy’s house. . . . When I got closer, I noticed the garage door was half open. I slowed down for a better look. Maybe Patsy’s dad was doing some yard work. But there was no sign of anyone.

I looked over my shoulder. Nobody was watching. Then, just like that, I walked into the garage. It was like I was on autopilot. I didn’t know what made me do it. Curiosity, I guess.

I remembered something we learned in English. This guy, Edgar Allan Poe, came up with an idea he called “the imp of the perverse.” Mr. Johnson – I had him for English last year – said it’s like when you see a sign that says Wet paint. Don’t touch, and you have this overwhelming urge to touch it. It was like that with the Levesques’ garage door. If it hadn’t been open, I never would’ve thought of going inside.


The Levesques have just moved in, two doors down from Josh, his mom, and her new husband, Clay. Despite Clay’s best efforts to get along with his stepson, he can do nothing right. He’s an artist – with all sorts of creative quirkiness – and, as far as Josh is concerned, the man is just weird. Everything Clay does gets on Josh’s nerves, and when Josh’s mom leaves the two together while she visits her ailing father in Toronto, tensions move up a notch. However, home isn’t the only tense place. As a result of a series of home invasions staged by an increasingly bolder and more violent perpetrator, the city of Montreal is on edge.

     Josh is not a violent or criminally-minded kid, but twice, when the opportunity presents itself, he walks into people’s homes and just observes them. First, it’s the Levesques, and after that experience, he learns something about himself: “Sure, I was doing something wrong, but this was definitely giving me an adrenaline rush.” He escapes, undetected. The second time, he sees a key set hanging from the doorknob of a house farther along his street. His original plan is “to let whoever lived there know that they’d forgotten their key.” Once again, the “imp of the perverse” goads him, and he turns the doorknob and lets himself into the house, spending some time watching the family living “normal” family life - setting the table, making dinner. His luck holds again when he sneaks into the Levesque home, but the next time that he listens to “the imp,” he’s caught.

     It’s bad news for Josh: he’s been apprehended by the police, Patsy Levesque (who has definitely piqued Josh’s interest) sees him in the cruiser car on the way to the police station, and worst of all, he is now under Clay’s constant supervision. However, Clay finds the way to make the best of the situation. He realizes that his stepson obviously has insight into how the mind of a home invader works and perhaps, that knowledge can be used to find the criminal who has been terrorizing the city. And in helping to catch the real home invader, Josh comes to learn real truths about seemingly perfect families, like the Levesques.

     Home Invasion has a rather unusual premise: Josh’s penchant for sneaking into homes and observing people is most unusual and hardly model behaviour. Nevertheless, Josh means no harm, and most teens (and many adults) can understand the concept of “the guilty pleasure.” Josh’s struggles are the realities of many teens today: a parent’s remarriage and family change, trying to establish himself on the basketball court, and, with Patsy Levesque. One of the latest titles in the “Orca Soundings” series, Home Invasion will find a place in secondary high school library collections. Don’t let that reading level of “3.6+” deter you – it’s a good read!


Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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