________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 10 . . . . November 4, 2011


The Summer of Permanent Wants.

Jamieson Findlay.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2011.
241 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-0-385-66928-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-385-66929-0 (eBook).

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Alicia Cheng.

*** /4

Reviewed from Uncorrected Proof.



Upstairs in her room, Emmeline gave an excited smile. It wouldn't be good for her; it would be fantastic for her. She wanted more than anything to go on this trip, just Gran and her and Lafcadio and the crickets, of course. And maybe Picardy Bob once in a while. And all right, her parents sometimes, since they would miss her. But mainly just Gran and her.
Emmeline was the sort of person who could
almost disappear in a crowd. Her face was narrow and quiet and undramatic. Her hair a thin, flat brown lay thinly and flatly on her head. She had no elvish ears or Cleopatra nose. The only thing striking about her were her eyes, which were as clear as winter twilight in an alpine valley. They were restless, curious eyes: they dreamed a lot, observed people and stars, and studied old houses for signs of being haunted.

Emmeline was an ordinary 11-year-old girl until she became ill for a long period of time. Afterwards, she could no longer speak. She is unable to use words to express her thoughts. Occasionally, she remembers a word or two, but they may not be the appropriate words. More often, she uses sign language and body language. Her grandmother also becomes her translator during their adventures sailing down the Rideau Canal Waterway on a boat called Permanent Wants.

      The Summer of Permanent Wants is a collection of short stories of Emmeline's and her grandmother's adventures in the summer. From the legendary place Zeya Shan to the language of Eden, from a woman from a faraway land who carries darkness with her to a reptile farm, Emmeline and her grandmother are always helping others and making new and exciting discoveries. The narrator in this novel tells these stories for Emmeline, and later in the epilogue, the narrator will tell readers how he came to know Emmeline and hear these stories.

      This voyage is also a journey of healing for Emmeline who comes to terms with her speech problems and learns that she can still interact with others, even if she has lost her speech. Readers will find out how strong an 11-year-old girl is through these stories, where her strength comes from, and how she manages without language. Through Emmeline's stories, she shares her love for books, history, and nature with her readers. The narrator in the novel provides a framework weaving Emmeline's stories into a literary work of art: the novel that became The Summer of Permanent Wants. It is a summer filled with adventures and of learning. Readers can follow Emmeline on her journey of growth as she and her grandmother sails down the Rideau Canal.


Alicia Cheng is a Children's Librarian at the Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, BC.

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

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