CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 21. . . .February 5, 2010.
Reckless. (Orca Currents).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2010.
104 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), 16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55469-223-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55469-224-8 (hc.).
Grades 7-10 / Ages 13-15.
Review by Laura Dunford.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
I reached for the door, but in the dim light of the room I couldn’t find the door handle. I felt a thrill of panic. Jonathan was walking toward me. Then his arm shot out quickly like he was going to push me into the wall. But he didn’t touch me at all. He flipped a latch and the door opened.
Whenever 17-year-old Josh is having a hard time, he likes to get on his dirt bike and speed through the woods. He has had to fight his parents’ worries about the dangers of dirt biking for a while now so when he literally runs into the Loggerman Creek hermit and the old man takes his bike, he keeps it to himself. When Josh finally works up the courage to return for his dented old bike, he is surprised to find that Jonathan, the hermit, has fixed it for him. The teenage boy and the traumatized Vietnam veteran strike up an unusual alliance that leads Josh to risk his life to save his friend and inspires the Hopevale community to reach out to an exile.
Set in a contemporary small rural town surrounded by wilderness, Reckless offers its audience a world perfectly suited for a dirt bike and a haunted mind. Its fast pace and suspenseful chapters make it a must read for adolescents and teens interested in extreme sports. Josh has to deal with familiar conflicts, such as dealing with the local bully and overprotective parents, as well as helping Jonathan during his physical and mental struggles. Choyce provides his readers with an entertaining and familiar side story while also addressing dark issues in the heart of his book.
Josh is a strong and relatable narrator whose voice anchors the audience in the world of Hopevale. Teen readers will appreciate that his embodiment of the rebelliousness his age group is renowned for is complemented by his resourcefulness. Josh demonstrates that young adults can take care of themselves and the people they care for. Josh’s perception of Jonathan translates the gap between generations. The hermit is a tragic character who switches between different personalities. He can be a humorously grumpy old man, a gentle friend, or a frightened and lonely victim. While dirt biking may draw readers in, it is Jonathan who will hold their attention.
Laura Dunford is a student in the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature program at the University of British Columbia.
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