________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 15 . . . . December 9, 2011


Joy of Apex.

Napatsi Folger.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2011.
101 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-926569-47-5

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Kay Weisman.

** /4



My name is Joy Magnussen and I live in Apex, or Niaqunngun, which is the Inuktitut name for my hometown. It’s the greatest place in the world. Apex is a small suburb in Iqaluit, which is the capital of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut. In Apex, everyone knows everyone, and I can always hear my dad yelling for me to come home, even from down on the beach.

I am ten years old and, like most people from Nunavut, I have a big family. My mom is Inuk and her name is Mary. George, my dad, is American, and I have a brother named Alex. He’s a year older than me and going to middle school this year, which leaves me in charge of taking care of our little sister Allashua (we call her Alla for short).

Ten-year-old Joy narrates this story of the year her parents separate. Although Mom seems rarely to interact with the family (she spends a lot of time smoking alone outside or visiting with her sisters who live nearby), Joy, Alex, and Alla seem unprepared for the day when she packs up and moves out. Luckily, because Dad seems to work from home, childcare is never an issue; nevertheless, the kids (Joy especially) are predictably upset by the turn of events. However, by Christmas, everyone seems to have reached a truce, with Dad feeling comfortable enough to spend the afternoon with his wife’s extended family.

      Folger’s first novel suffers from a lack of “show-don’t-tell,” and her adult characters feel very one-dimensional. George seems the perfect dad—he cooks, cleans, and takes time to know his children—while Mary seems a shoo-in for the next “Mommy-Dearest.” In one particularly egregious scene, Dad and the kids return from a trip to the emergency room to find Mom packing up and attempting to sneak away without anyone noticing. Everyone deduces her plan, but Mom never asks the reason for the ER trip or the prognosis for her youngest child. Later scenes of the kids visiting Mom find her sending them off to watch television while she talks with her sisters.

     Although Joy of Apex may appeal to some for its setting and the local color it provides, there are many better books available that deal with divorce.

Recommended with reservations.

Kay Weisman is a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature candidate at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

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

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