________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 14. . . .December 3, 2010.


Accomplice. (Keystone).

Valerie Sherrard.
Toronto, ON: Dundurn, 2011.
142 pp., pbk., $9.99.
ISBN 978-1-55488-764-4.

Grades 8-11 / Ages 13-16.

Review by Alicia Cheng.


Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.




My eyes slide closed as I try to block out the reality of where I am. It doesn’t help. Sometimes what’s in your head is worse than what’s around you. Screams and gunshots, blood and sirens flood my thoughts.

I open my eyes again and look around for something to distract me. I lean to the side until I can see out the front window of the van. As I get my bearings, I realize that we’re leaving the city behind. The city, my life, and my family.

Lexie Malton is a typical 15-year-old with not so typical issues. Besides having a stepmother she dislikes and a sister with special needs, Lexie has a secret that’s eating her up. She feels solely responsible for turning her ex-boyfriend, Devlin Mather, from a star student into a heroin addict who now lives on the street. If she had not urged him to try the drug, he would not be in this state. This guilt forces her to give in to Devlin’s demands for money until Lexie finally gathers the courage to say no. Lexie is drawn back to Devlin when he seeks treatment to stop his addiction, but she instantly finds herself in another nightmare. Devlin has nothing to lose, but for Lexie, her future, her life, everything she loves is at stake.

     The story begins in media res with Lexie Malton being arrested by the police. Readers are quickly brought up to speed with the events three months prior leading up to the arrest. Written from Lexie’s point of view, the story fully captures her feelings and emotions as she suffers through guilt and powerlessness as the situation spins out of control.

     Sherrard vividly portrays what life would be like on Hastings Street in Vancouver, BC. Even if readers are unfamiliar with Vancouver, this picture is painted in such great detail that it is not difficult to imagine. Readers can easily relate to Lexie’s description of Vancouver, and in particular, of Hastings Street.

     Sherrard uses simple yet powerful language to bring out Lexie’s fear and helplessness. Although the plot is linear and the majority of the characters remain static, Accomplice is a novel about dealing with change, growing up, and betrayal.

     Readers of both genders will equally enjoy this novel. Because of the mature subject matter but simple language, Accomplice is also recommended for high-low and reluctant readers.

Highly Recommended.

Alicia Cheng is a Children’s Librarian at Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, BC.

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

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