________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 16. . . .December 18, 2009


Wasted. (Side Streets).

Brent R. Sherrard.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2009.
139 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55277-419-9 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-55277-420-5 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Children of alcoholics -Juvenile fiction.
Substance abuse -Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Christina Pike.

**** /4



A shadow fell over us, and I looked up to see Dad, whisky bottle in his hand and grass stains on his face.

“Gtta shange that transhminshim, boy,” he said, and fell into the wall. “No damn good.”

I figured that last statement was meant for me. He was totally pissed, again, and it was time to clear out of there before we were subjected to his alcoholic wisdom. I didn’t bother trying to tell him that the transmission job was already done. I’d have to wait until he sobered up enough to understand, whenever that might be.

“Let’s get that driveshaft in place, before it gets any hotter,” I said to Rufus, ignoring Dad, who was using the shed wall to keep himself from toppling over. “Then we can go celebrate my birthday.” Within fifteen sweat-drenched minutes I had the truck mobile again. Dad was nowhere in sight as I crawled out from under the truck, and Rufus went into the shed to clean his hands while I took the keys in to my mother.

The last thing we needed was for the old man to go for another booze cruise. I was reaching for the doorknob when I heard a crash.

“Oh God, oh my God!” I heard Rufus yell. I bounded to the shed door, where we both stared in horror at the sight of Dad, flat on his back in the dirt, the handle of a screwdriver sticking out of his chest.

Wasted, by Brent R. Sherrard, tells the story of 17-year-old Jacob Baldwin. It is summer, and Jacob’s Uncle Ralph has been arrested, and so his Aunt Corrine and her 17-year-old son, Rufus, trying to escape the reality of their situation, are visiting. Having a father who is a drunk, Jacob can somewhat sympathize with Rufus’ situation. The main difference between the two cousins is that Rufus still has feelings for his father whereas Jacob would just like the nightmare to end, even if it means his father’s death.

     Sherrard in this novel has taken two families living very different lives and put them under one roof during a very stressful time in each of the family’s lives. Not only does the author ask his reader to look at what it means to be a family, but he also explores stereotypes of city life and rural life.

     A very well written novel with realistic characters. Well worth a read.

Highly Recommended.

Christina Pike is the principal of St. Paul's Junior High School in St. John's, NL.

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

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