________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 3. . . .September 17, 2010


Squeeze. (Orca Sports).

Rachel Dunstan Muller.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2010.
166 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55469-324-5.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Amy Dawley.

***Ĺ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Iíve never moved so carefully in my life. I canít afford to slip. Thereís no one here to rescue me if I fall. If I get stuck this time, itís game over. Not just for me, but for Jesse and Michelle as well.

Halfway through, my fears become paralyzing. Iím afraid to shift my weight, to advance even a tiny bit. My heart starts to pound, and Iím having trouble breathing around the penlight in my mouth. ďGet it together!Ē I order myself. If I stop now, my muscles will spasm and Iíll drop for sure. I have to keep going. I have to push forward.

I force my limbs to move: a leg, the opposing arm, the other leg, the other arm. Iím advancing at a snailís pace, but Iím advancing. My headlamp dies, and the circle of light around me gets smaller. I tighten my mouth around the penlight. It feels like a gag, like some kind of torture device.

I can see the end of the crevice in front of me. Iím only a few yards away when my right foot slips. I catch myself almost instantly, but the shock is enough to relax my grip on the flashlight. It slides from my mouth, and drops into the crack at my feet.

And just like that, Iím in the dark.

Byron has been exploring caves since he was a kid, a family pastime that he shares with his father and older brother Jesse. Byron loves nothing more than to descend into the dark depths and test his limits. When Jesse invites Byron on a weekend camping and caving expedition, Byron couldnít be more thrilled. A little nervous about going without the wise guidance of his experienced father, Byron is confident in his older brotherís common sense to see them through safely. Joining them for the weekend is Jesseís sketchy university roommate, Cole, who is a caver himself, and Jesseís girlfriend, Michelle, who is an experienced rock climber. For Byron, the weekend starts off strangely when Cole insists they drive by a ďfriendísĒ house before heading out into the wilderness. When they come upon a house that is surrounded by police officers, Cole becomes tense, and they leave the scene immediately. Michelle, who has never liked Cole and who is convinced that he is somehow involved in illegal activity, senses that Cole is up to no good, and there is a solid mystery subplot in the novel where Byron and Michelle try to figure out what Cole has done.

     When the three adventurers reach the cave they were supposed to enter and find it caved in, Byron discovers an entrance to an uncharted and undiscovered cave. After discussing the risks, Byron and his companions decided to press forward and explore the new cave. Things go well at first with only a few thrilling mishaps that couldíve ended much worse. Byron, Michelle, and Cole make it through those alive and relatively unscathed, but when Coleís sinister past reveals itself and their caving expedition turns deadly, it is up to Byron to save his brother and Michelle. Testing the limits of his fears, self doubts, and caving skills, Byron forces himself to press onward or risk losing his brother forever.

     Setting his story in the lush forests of Vancouver Island, Rachel Dunstan Muller has written a thrilling and compelling survival story about the bonds of family and brotherhood and the limits of human endurance under pressure. Told from the perspective of a teenage boy who both doubts his abilities while striving to believe and trust in himself, Squeeze will have readers on the edge of their seats. It would make an excellent addition to libraries that have readers who are keen on survival and adventure stories. Teen readers who enjoy real life stories about the outdoors, survival, and adventure are sure to like this novel. In addition, readers who like a bit of mystery with their thrillers will get exactly what they were hoping for, and the high interest / low reading level of this book make it highly accessible to teen readers of all skill levels.

Highly Recommended.

Amy Dawley is the teen librarian at the Prince George Public Library in Prince George, BC.

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

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