________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 18 . . . . January 15, 2010


Running the Risk. (Orca Soundings).

Lesley Choyce.
Victoria, BC: Orca Books, 2009.
110 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55469-025-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55469-026-8 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Robbery investigation-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 8-10 / Ages 13-15.

Review by Saache Heinrich.

*** /4


The gunmen arrived at Burger Joint shortly after midnight on Friday. I was on the frontline, taking orders along with Lacey and Cam. It was like a dream at first. The place had been quiet except for workmen laughing over their French fries, and a couple of slightly drunk kids from school goofing around at a table by the windows.

And then the door opened and two guys with ski masks on walked in nervously. One walked straight to me. The other went to Lacey. As they approached, the guns came up. The room suddenly went dead quiet except for the sound of hamburgers in the back and the overhead fluorescent lights. I'd never ever noticed the hum of the fluorescent lights before.

The guy with a gun pointed it at Lacey and spoke first. "Open it, girl."

The guy with the gun on me said nothing. I was looking at Lacey. And then at Cam. There was a panic button on the floor beneath each register. A silent alarm. You triggered it and the cops would know we were in trouble. I saw Cam looking at the floor.

But something told me that right here, right now, hitting the button would be the wrong thing to do. These two guys were nervous. I was looking at my gunman right in the eyes. I knew there was something there. These guys were whacked on something. Anything could make them freak. The guns were real. Everything was real.

And that's when it kicked in.

This feeling of calm.


When the burger joint that Sean works at is held up at gunpoint late one Friday night, Sean keeps his cool and calmly works through the crisis to appease the robbers and to ensure that nobody is injured during the tense holdup. After the holdup, Sean craves the same adrenalin rush by seeking risky situations. Sean spends time with Jeannette, a fellow victim of the robbery, who seems engaged in some post-traumatic stress behaviour of her own. She drinks alcohol and entices Sean to smoke marijuana in public. He also befriends, Priscilla, a psychotic homeless woman. It is clear that, despite Sean's penchant for adrenalin-seeking, both Jeannette and Priscilla are drawn to Sean and find him to be a stable and calming influence. His risk-taking eventually takes Sean into the rougher parts of town. When he comes across the robbers face-to-face on the street, his dilemma is between going forward to the police and, thereby, risking his life or keeping silent.

     Running the Risk is another offering in the hi-lo "Orca Soundings" series. Award-winning and prolific author Lesley Choyce has previously written several titles for this reluctant reader series with various high interest teen subjects. With this recent title, Choyce incorporates suspense, mystery and the social issue of homelessness into a fast-paced story that is sure to appeal to both male and female readers.

     Because the story is being told in the first person, the reader can keenly follow along with Sean's adrenalin quest. Through Sean's recounting events about his grandfather, who had his own keen sense of adventure and a personal motto of living life with "balls to the wall," and a particular exchange of Sean's with his father, who faced his own moral dilemma at work, readers will recognize that eventually Sean's honesty and decency will enable him to do the right thing and come forward to the police despite the possible danger to his own life. This protagonist is both a likeable and believable character, and, in typical reluctant reader fashion, the reader will undoubtedly eagerly continue the story though to the concluding pages.


Saache Heinrich is the Youth Services Manager at Wheatland Regional Library in Saskatoon, SK.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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