CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 6. . . .November 7, 2008
First Time. (Orca Soundings).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2008.
108 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55143-944-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55143-946-4 (hc.).
Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.
Review by Bryannie Kirk.
I want Mom's advice as to what I should do. Maybe I'd even find a way to mention that Larry flashed me. It was probably just an accident. But just in case, shouldn't she know? I don't know what to do. She really likes this guy. I don't want to cause trouble. I should probably let it go, put it out of my head, because there is no easy answer and it hurts my stomach, every time I think about it.
I wish it was the old days and I could talk with Mom the way we used to. But I cant. She was too busy with her sleazy boyfriend, and then she went to bed. Couldn't care less that I was upset.
I glance over at the clock. 1:47 the digital red numbers glow back at me. I'm never going to get to sleep. It doesn't matter how hard I try. My mind's leaping around like a gymnast on speed. I shake my thoughts away from Lynn, only to have them land on the argument with my mom. Shake them off of my mom, and there's Larry's stupid face smirking at me. Life sucks. It really does.
Sixteen-year-old Haley is dealing with too many issues for comfort. Her best friend is changing for the worse and has become completely obsessed with Chad, the older guy who used to be the hot shot of their high school. Her mother has started to treat her differently since she started seeing her new boyfriend, Larry, who Haley doesn't even like. Plus, Larry is spending far too much time at their house lately and consistently invades her personal space. It would be okay if she could talk to her mother about all of this, but she no longer seems to believe in her old rule of "never go to bed angry."
First Time deals with the friendship issues that arise during the later teenage years when being cool and socially accepted can become overwhelmingly important. While Haley attempts to navigate school, social life and home life, her best friend, Lynn, is blinded by Chad's outward appearance and his reputation as the cool older guy. Haley can see right through his act, but convincing Lynn of this is nearly impossible. Lynn begins to ditch Haley right when Haley needs her the most.
A more serious issue that First Time touches on is the relationship between Haley and her mother's boyfriend, Larry. The uneasiness that Haley feels around Larry escalates as the number of inappropriate incidents around their house adds up. Instead of reaching out to her mother and discussing her negative feelings about Larry, Haley retreats from both of them and begins to feel more and more isolated. First Time illustrates a dangerous situation in which Haley learns to regret ignoring her instincts.
First Time is part of the "Orca Soundings" series which is geared towards upper-level teenagers with low reading levels. The reading level for this particular novel is grade 3.1, and most of the books in the "Orca Soundings" series are assessed as between grade 2.0 and grade 4.5 reading levels. There are nearly fifty titles in the series, all with varying subjects and reading levels. Despite the short length and simple vocabulary, the content is aimed towards teens.
Bryannie Kirk is a student in the Master of Arts in Children's Literature program at the University of British Columbia.
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