CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 3. . . .September 17, 2010
Seventeen-year-old Brendan is a popular student at his high school. He is captain of the basketball team, has plenty of friends and a gorgeous girlfriend. But when the coach starts benching him because he can no longer keep up with his team mates and he is unable to have sex with his girlfriend, Brendan realizes something is very wrong. A diagnosis of leukemia destroys Brendanís positive outlook, and as he begins his first round of chemotherapy, he takes his anger out on the people who love him the most. The only person Brendan feels connected to is Lark, another cancer patient who has a relentlessly optimistic outlook on life.
What ultimately holds the story back is the authorís failure to capture an authentic teen voice. Cellular is written in the first person, narrated by Brendan whose voice moves between two extremes. When the reader is introduced to Brendan, he has an uncomfortably edgy and sexually explicit tone that abruptly turns sickly-sweet as soon as Lark enters the story. Only in the moments when Brendan wrestles with his anger toward his friends and family as they attempt to comfort him, does his character ring true. These scenes are genuinely moving and sustain the readerís interest in Brendanís story.
Recommended with reservations.
Laura Dunford is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Childrenís Literature program at the University of British Columbia.
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