________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 18. . . .May 1, 2009



Jennifer Cowan.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2009.
232 pp., pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $17.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-88899-890-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-88899-889-7 (hc.).

Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.

Review by Pam Klassen-Dueck.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



being here
[ September 26th | 10:39 pm ]
[ mood: determined ]
[music: PJ Harvey Good Fortune ]

Yeah, yeah, it's been a while for the Bean. Grand apologies all around. I just didn't want to bore you with the minutiae of the minutiae. Guess I was waiting for something epic and explosive to report.

And today that *IT* happened!

Riding my bike through Kensington Market I got PELTED by some soccer-mom-she-ho and the detritus (thx Mr. Thesaurus) of her mccrappy meal. I FREAKED as would any other normal sane person, since getting pelted with garbage isn't just gross, it's profoundly NOT ON.

What followed was a blur of bad words (mostly mine!), hoots and shouts from bystanders all caught on video by my girl CV. Click the YouTube link below!!!!

It was a shocking, unnecessary, and profoundly horrible event. One I wouldn't wish on anyone. And yet I emerge from it not only unscathed (save for a nasty brown sauce stain) but strangely enriched. Empowered even.

To do better and be better because clearly there are a lot of people out there who need role models and guidance.

And maybe just maybe this happened because I'm the one to inspire the confused, misguided and/or slovenly masses to better, kinder interactions with their fellow beings and beans. Here's to trying anyway.

Inspiringly yours, Sabine the being.

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What happens when a teenaged cyclist gets beaned by the remnants of a synthetic take-out meal by the driver of a brand-new gas-guzzling SUV? She becomes an eco-warrior! Sabine becomes determined to live consciously in a world gone mad for sparkly cell phones, plastic food, and processed hair, while simultaneously looking for lo ve from a hot guy who cherishes similar values. Watch Sabine blog her way from Queen West bargain-hunter to eco-evolved woman and human 'Bean.'

     Sabine is an immensely likeable character: a vivacious, slang-loving blog addict who has to decide how far she'll go in her efforts to save mother earth. Though her transition from shopaholic to anti-consumer seemed abrupt to me, I realized that she is a reminder of the fact that a significant change sometimes comes in unexpected ways. For Sabine, her life-altering experience means that nothing is as it was, and so she must make decision after decision regarding what is worth saving in her life. Is it worth it to her, for instance, to hang on to her militantly consumerist best friends? She thinks not. In fact, throughout earthgirl, Sabine gains the strength to become a leader a warrior for the planet in the face of great peer opposition. (I must add that I liked the author's link between the environment and feminism, especially in light of ecofeminist theory.) Tied into this personal growth, as well, is Sabine's sexual development into a strong young woman who is clearly comes to be in control of her romantic relationships. Certainly, this control comes in handy when she needs to decide how far to take herself as an eco-terrorist.

      Although at times the novel begins to sound preachy, the message of saving our planet really is more than relevant, particularly in this time when we've witnessed the effects of rampant consumerism on the economy, the environment, etc. (I'm from a Mennonite background with a traditional emphasis on voluntary simplicity, though that value has become eroded, in my opinion and earthgirl reminded me that I really don't need so much stuff in my life.) In the end, happily, the novel does resist sounding too soapbox-ish by containing multiple, and even conflicting, opinions on the state of the environment. In particular, the people who visit her 'earthgirl' blog offer a variety of points of view including absurd and even incorrect statements about such things as climate change and Sabine accepts all words, saying that freedom of speech is vital to the movement.

      In short, earthgirl is an entertaining read an interesting kind of eco-bildungsroman and it offers much to think about in terms of how far we should be willing to go to rescue our greatest inheritance: the Earth.


A middle years teacher, Pam Klassen-Dueck is presently a graduate student in the M.Ed. program at Brock University.

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

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