________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 2. . . .September 10, 2010.


Something to Prove. (A Robyn Hunter Mystery).

Norah McClintock.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2010.
201 pp., pbk., $8.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-98571-0.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Ruth Latta.





"Some people said she was a little too aggressive in cross examining the kid."

"Did you think that?"...

"It's the defence attorney's duty to mount a vigorous defence, to suggest alternate theories as to what happened, and to question the case made by the prosecution...I don't know where you're going with this, Robbie, but I'm not going to do it."

"Not going to do what?"

"Criticize your mother to you. She was just doing her job and she did it well...She gave the jury reasonable doubt. And in a case like that, a case that relies almost exclusively on eyewitnesses, especially only one eyewitness who actually saw the crime being committed, the judge's instructions to the jury worked to her advantage."

In Something to Prove, Norah McClintock continues the story of Robyn Hunter. Will she get a commitment from the elusive Nick d'Angelo, the youth with the troubled past? It goes without saying that, like a lightning rod, she will again be drawn into a mystery.

     There have been eight previous Robyn Hunter mysteries, and although each can stand on its own, a reader new to this series might want to read the novels in sequence to get a full picture of Robyn's family and friends. Robyn's mother is a defence lawyer, divorced from Robyn's father, and living with her fiance, whom Robyn initially disliked but now appreciates. Robyn divides her time between her mother's house and her dad's apartment in a building which he owns. Her father, formerly a police officer, is now a private detective.

     Something to Prove has two plots which converge near the end. The first concerns Robyn's relationship with Nick, who is attending an alternative school, working hard at two part-time jobs and living in a small apartment in the building owned by Robyn's father. An ideal situation for teenagers in love, no? Well, no. When Nick isn't working for pay, he's doing homework and has little free time for Robyn. Worse, he reconnects with a childhood friend, Danny - short for "Danielle" - a strikingly beautiful, affectionate young woman who drives a Lexus and whose father may have a better job for him.

     Meanwhile, at Robyn's school, a new student appears in her home room."Oh, my God, Robyn, he's absolutely adorable!" exclaims her best friend, Morgan. "You know, if things aren't working out with you and Nick ..." James, the newcomer, walks with a slight limp, the result of a highway accident. While obsessing over Nick, Robyn perceives that James is nice, and when he asks her to tutor him, she agrees. "[Dad] said he was going to call the school to see if they would recommend someone," James tells her. "Then when I mentioned you, he said you would be perfect."

     Careful readers will raise their antennae here. James and his father are new to the city. How does his father know anything about Robyn's academic ability, since he didn't call the school and has never met her? To answer this question would be to spoil the plot. Suffice it to say that James's father chooses Robyn because of her connections.

     In showing the tensions between Nick and Robyn, McClintock captures the disbelief and anger that any woman would feel after she has tried to improve the situation of the man she loves, only to discover that he seeing another woman and claiming that this rival is "just a friend." Robyn sums up her feelings in a key scene near the end:

I had spent the past year waiting for Nick - waiting for him to tell me what he was thinking, waiting for him to come back to me, waiting for him to tell me how he really felt, waiting for him to take the lead. But I couldn't wait any longer.

     McClintock's sophisticated novel shows young people taking on adult responsibilities and experiencing adult emotions. Having reviewed two earlier novels in this series, I found Something to Prove the best of the three, and I was sorry to read on the back cover that this book is the "thrilling conclusion to the Robyn Hunter series."

Highly Recommended.

Ruth Latta's Spelling Bee (Ottawa, Baico, $22.95, ISBN 978-1-926596-19-8) is a "women's novel" in the Jane Austen sense. Ruth blogs at http://ruthlatta.blogspot.com

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

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