CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 28 . . .March 25, 2011
She Said/She Saw.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2011.
211 pp., pbk., $12.95.
Grades 8 and up /Ages 13 and up.
Review by Chris Laurie.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Two things I know:
One, everybody has a story to tell, and everybody tells their story in a different way... Two, nobody sees the whole story. Nobody can. There are always things in other people's heads that you can't know, not for sure, not even when other people tell you what they're thinking, because, let's face it, not everyone tells the truth. Sure, you can guess and maybe even get pretty close to the truth sometimes. But just as often, even more often, you're wrong. And I can guarantee you that almost all of the time there are pieces missing - the things that people are thinking to themselves that they would never say out loud, the things people don't even want to admit to themselves.
Tegan was sitting in the back seat of the car when her boyfriend Martin and his best friend Clark were shot and killed following a post-midterm house party. She says she didn't see who did it. She says she doesn't know who did it. But does she know more than she's saying?
Norah McClintock's suspenseful new novel, She Said/She Saw, takes readers into the minds of two teenaged sisters. Seventeen-year-old Kelly sees life as cinematic - "like a movie or a tv drama", while slightly older Tegan sees life as more of an epic novel with herself as the heroine. Does the way we perceive life make our 'story' more true than someone else's?
This fascinating narrative alternates between the two teens in different manners, effectively giving the reader a glimpse into the thinking and motivation behind each girl's actions. Kelly's perspective is written as a screenplay, while Tegan's follows the more traditional narrative mode. While both narrative devices help the reader identify with each teen's unique character, the reader will come to realize that one can never fully know what someone else is thinking. What they do and what they say only tell parts of their story.
Tegan's wild ways cause an increasing number of people to think that she knows more than she is saying, and some even think that she is responsible in some way for what happened Even while she adamantly denies this, she senses her mother, her best friend, and eventually even her sister are beginning to disbelieve her as well. Tensions rise further when Clark's parents hire a private detective who begins calling in students one by one for interview. If that isn't enough, a website appears, accusing Tegan of knowing more than she's saying. Pushed to her breaking point, Tegan acts to resolve the situation in a way that no-one expects. There are many truths in this novel. As Tegan sorts through her memories, readers watch as the shockwaves of that night ripple outward through the community and ultimately return to their epicentre.
With She Said/She Saw, McClintock has created a thrilling and thoroughly believable suspense novel that explores many issues, including drug use, relationships, memory, trust, and more. Everyone has her/his own truth and everyone sees life in her/his own way. But do any of us know the complete truth? Tegan and Kelly are both fully realized and engaging teenagers, but adult characters are also surprisingly complex, most notably Martin's father, Tony Genovese. This page-turner is a quick and enjoyable read, and teens who are discovering McClintock for the first time will no doubt run to the library to find more of her great reads.
Chris Laurie is an Outreach Librarian at the Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.
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