CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 7. . . .October 15, 2010.
New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Distributed in Canada by Penguin Canada), 2010.
307 pp., pbk, $22.50.
Voyages and travels-Fiction.
Conduct of life-Fiction.
Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.
Review by Jeannine Stickle.
Reviewed from Uncorrected Proofs.
Clever, brave, 16-year-old Molly McClure leaves her home on a farm on an island near Vancouver Island in order to rescue her grandparents in the United States in this fast-paced adventure novel set in a not-too-distant dystopian future where oil has run out and world economies have collapsed. The story begins when Molly's family receives news that her grandmother on her mother's side, who lives in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, has had a stroke and the family suspects she might have died. The family decides that Molly's grandfather could not survive on his own, and that they need to rescue him and bring him to live in Canada with them. Molly is the most able to make the trip of all her family members, even though it is illegal to journey into the United States as an unaccompanied minor, meaning that she needs to sneak in. Despite several dangerous obstacles, Molly is not discouraged by her difficult journey, which she faces bravely, and she eventually arrives at her grandparents' house. Growing poverty among all Americans besides the extremely wealthy has led to high crime, and Molly's grandfather does not initially trust the granddaughter he has never before met. However, Molly immediately gains the trust of her grandmother, who is living but badly injured from her stroke, and slowly gains the trust and friendship of her grandfather as well. While she formulates plans to make enough money to make the trip back to the United States, she befriends her grandparents' next door neighbors as well as a handsome boy named Spill who turns out to be an important member of an organized crime organization called the Organization. Spill's connections and desire to sneak into Canada
with Molly and her grandparents both help and hinder their plans, and when they finally do escape the watchful eye of the Organization, several members, including one high-ranking member named Randall, chase after them until they finally escape them near the border and return safely to Canada.
Suddenly he stood up. I followed his gaze. A small man in a suit and tie was making his way through the crowd towards us. “I gotta go,” he said, “but maybe I'll stop by your grandparents' housesometime.”
The fact he knew where we lived shocked me a little. “You remember the address?” I asked. The guy seemed nice enough, but I couldn't forget the fear in the fare inspectors' eyes when he'd shown them his ID or whatever it was.
“Never forget a face,” he said. His cheerful smile relaxed me a little. “Never forget a place or, well, anything, really. Part of the business. See you around, Handsome Molly.”
“Okay. Thanks for the root beer.”
As he and the small man crossed paths, they nodded hello to each other but didn't speak. The man continued past him and walked up to me, a friendly smile on his face. I pressed the cold bottle against my sweaty forehead. He eyed my fiddle and then my case full of produce.
“Finished playing?” he asked.
“For today.” I packed up Jewels while he watched and was about to scoop up my take when he leaned over and picked up the pie.
“I'll take that,” he said.
“Oh, that's okay. I've got it.”
“You're new around here, right?” he asked, still holding my pie.
“Well, let me introduce myself. I'm Randall.” He held out his hand and I shook it tentatively. “And one of my jobs is to make sure everyone knows the rules. You see, this market ain't exactly public,
if you know what I mean.”
I shook my head.
“It's a private enterprise,” he said. “And as a private enterprise, the Boss takes a fair share of any profits the vendors make. In other words, the house always wins. Get it?”
Molly is a strong, likeable character who drives the action of the story very well with her good-humored determination and clever ability to overcome obstacles. There is a strong feminist theme to the book as the boss of the Organization is also a woman and Molly's mother is also a strong woman who has made brave and independent life choices. The book also has strong themes of the importance of family and community.
Restoring Harmony creates a believable future setting that feels both different from the present and familiar because much has remained the same. The sense of danger that Anthony attempts to convey is, however, less believable. The crime organization does not come across as very threatening. The characters in the Organization all seem to be sympathetic and friendly towards Molly and never do anything to Molly or any other character that quite justifies their ominous reputation. Near the end of the novel, Spill even suggests, convincingly, that Randall let them escape, which is never explained or justified and makes for a confusing detail that only has the effect of further trivializing the threat of the Organization.
Overall, Restoring Harmony is an enjoyable, fast-paced read that will be enjoyed by female readers who enjoy reading books with strong female characters. This book might be enjoyed by readers who enjoy Scott Westerfield's “Uglies” series, though in Restoring Harmony there are fewer elements of science fiction and less of a focus on the dystopian society than in Westerfield's novels.
Jeannine Stickle is a Library and Information Studies student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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