________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 22. . . .February 11, 2011.



Becky Citra.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2011.
179 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55469-345-0.

Grades 4-9 / Ages 9-14.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Dad lingers to chat. "Want a coke?"

"No thanks."

"School go okay today?"

"Great," I lie.

I don't fool dad. "Give it a chance," he says. "You can't expect to have a lot of friends instantly."

I bend over my book so I don't have to lie anymore. Dad doesn't know what he's talking about. It takes time to make friends, and that's what I don't have. Sid's regular cook will be back next week and then Dad will be officially out of work. Again. He's been scanning the newspaper for jobs for weeks and leaving resumes around town, but there's nothing here. We'll be moving again.

And since when does dad care anyway?

The page of math problems blurs over, and I blink hard. I've been like this all day. Fragile.

After years of moving through small towns, Thea Taylor and her dad find friends and a fitting home on a small British Columbian guest ranch. They confront painful memories while living there, but with the truth about their past revealed, Thea and her dad are able to grow closer together. As they build stability in their lives, they start to pursue their dreams for the future.

     A depressing cafe scene at the beginning of the book turns into one of hope when Thea and her dad move out to Gumboot Lake. While her dad is busy restoring the cabins at Double R Ranch, Thea finds a horse that needs to be groomed and trained, and a mystery that needs to be solved. Although Thea is used to being alone, and often pushes people away, she makes an exception for Van, a boy from her eighth grade social studies class. Unfortunately, Van, the first person to talk to Thea in two months, happens to be the grandson of the man tied to the mysterious disappearance of a four-year-old girl from the ranch over fifty years ago. When Thea discovers he is still a person of interest in the case, she befriends the half sister of the missing girl in order to help Van clear his grandfather's name.

     A few instances of foreshadowing make the outcome of this mystery predictable, but the storyline's chilling recollections of sibling rivalry, and dramatic moments involving Thea training Renegade the horse, should keep readers engrossed. The plot, which is established early, immediately draws the reader into the characters' lives, while the descriptions of Thea's observations and surroundings (especially those of the ranch owner's travel photography and Van's grandfather's realistic carved birds) captivate the senses.

     Becky Citra has written several books for children including After the Fire and Whiteout. She has trained and ridden horses for thirty years. She lives in British Columbia.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

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

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