CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 5. . . .October 1, 2010
Maybe Never, Maybe Now.
Kimberly Joy Peters.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2010.
188 pp., pbk., $10.95.
Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.
Review by Lisa Doucet.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Sometimes I wonder whether things would have been easier if I'd had a crystal ball. I might have foreseen, then, how everything that happened before would ultimately affect everything that happened after.
I also might have recognized that second chances are so much more fragile than firsts. Because even if you're lucky enough to get a second chance, you already understand how badly things can turn out. You start to realize how much more it's going to hurt if everything somehow goes wrong again. And if you don't believe, deep down, that you really deserve that second chance, the very idea of one can be paralyzing.
That's what happened to me the year I turned sixteen.
Caitlyn isn't sure how to react when her best friend Ashley has to withdraw from an exchange trip to Quebec and proposes that Caitlyn take her place. She feels truly saddened for Ashley, knowing how much her friend had been looking forward to the trip and how difficult it had been for her to withdraw due to her mother's ongoing illness. On the other hand, Caitlyn, herself, is both excited and apprehensive at the prospect of embarking on this adventure. Having just recently extricated herself from an abusive relationship, she sees this as an opportunity to put the past behind her and embrace a new challenge. Plus, her other best friend, Connor, is taking part in the exchange as well, and so she knows that she can always count on his support if she needs it. Overcoming her uncertainties, she decides to go.
Once in Quebec, Caitlyn finds herself partnered with a lively and fun teen, Mireille, whose loving and boisterous family welcome her into their home. Almost immediately, Mireille questions Caitlyn and Connor's relationship, despite Caitlyn's assurances that they are just friends. Soon, however, Caitlyn also begins to wonder…does Connor care for her as more than just a friend? And if so, is she brave enough to take another chance after everything she's been through?
In addition to her budding new romance, Caitlyn is given more to think about and new decisions to make when she receives a letter out of the blue. After having left when she was only four years old, Caitlyn's father suddenly reaches out to her, casting her into even more confusion and self-doubt. Now she has to sort through the myriad of emotions that surface with this unexpected development and try to decide if she is ready to potentially allow him back into her life. While the people who care about her try to encourage her to believe in herself and to do what she feels is right, Caitlyn struggles to trust herself and her instincts.
Peters has created in Caitlyn a character that teen readers will empathize with and root for, particularly those who have read Painting Caitlyn. These readers will delight in watching her emerge from the harrowing events of her recent past and test her wings. The story is told in a very forthright and straightforward manner, making it readily accessible and its intended message easily identifiable. Connor's frustration with Caitlyn's reliance on external signs to make her decisions for her rings true, and Mireille's family – so different from Caitlyn's own – provides an entertaining backdrop for the story. Even teens who haven't endured the kind of relationship that Caitlyn is trying to put behind her will still relate to her concerns about taking her relationship with Connor to a new level and her conflicted feelings about the sudden reappearance of her father in her life. Learning to believe in oneself and to make wise, well thought out decisions is an important part of any teen's maturation process so readers will understand Caitlyn's insecurities and her reliance on everything from horoscopes to mood rings to provide guidance and external validation. In all, the story doesn't provide any startling surprises, but the likeable characters and authentic situations make it an enjoyable read that will have widespread appeal.
Lisa Doucet is Co-Manager of Woozles Children's Bookstore in Halifax, NS.
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