________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 16 . . . . April 3, 2009

cover If You Live Like Me.

Lori Weber.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2009.
331 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-897550-12-0.

Grade 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Kay Weisman.

***Ĺ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


I reach out and hold my momís hand. She seems surprised, but she doesnít resist. My fatherís explanation for his book comes back to me. The moment of change, he called it. Thatís what he tries to record. The point where the culture shifts, like the earth is sighing and rearranging its weight. This could be that moment for me.

Sixteen-year-old Cheryl is desperate to get back home to Montreal. For the past three years, her anthropologist father has been working on a book about dying cultures in Canada resulting in a trek that has taken her family to a small copper mining town in the Gaspe area of Quebec, the Osoyoos Desert in British Columbia, a farm in Saskatchewan, and now to the remnants of the fishing community in St. John, Newfoundland. Although Cheryl tries to adjust to each new place, her fatherís probing interviews with the locals always embarrass her and result in damaged friendships. With this move, she determines to keep herself emotionally aloof and leave St. John as soon as she earns the fare back to Montreal.

    Unfortunately, Cheryl hasnít counted on meeting the cute, 17-year-old next-door neighbor Jim, an upbeat would-be geologist who seems to be able to see beyond Cherylís forbidding goth exterior and sometimes rude behavior. In taking her to see the sights of his beloved province, he begins to break down the barriers Cheryl has set up. Just as she starts to let her guard down with Jim, allowing herself to appreciate and enjoy her new surroundings, her motherís rheumatism flares up, and it becomes clear that the damp Newfoundland climate is incompatible with her condition. Mom decides to return home to Montreal, assuming that Cheryl will gladly accompany her.

     Weberís strong suit is her attention to local color, whether she is describing Cherylís current locale in Newfoundland or reminiscing about her past homes in other parts of Canada. Weber's attention to setting details makes for many picturesque descriptions, and her explanations of how natural elements affect peopleís everyday lives will impress readers as well.

     The longing for home is another prominent theme in this novel. Cheryl wishes to return to her beloved Montreal, but at least her journeys have always included both parents. By contrast, Jim boards with an aunt so that he can attend a proper city high school, aand his mother and sisters live miles away in their old fishing village while his father and older brothers have moved to Alberta to find work now that the fishing industry has closed. Both teens long to direct their own lives, but home and family become a source of conflict as well as comfort.

     Weber writes with a light touch and a keen ear for teen dialogue and concerns, and this will make a popular choice for younger teens.


Kay Weisman is a Master of Arts in Childrenís Literature candidate at the University of British Columbia.

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