________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 17. . . .January 6, 2012


The Next Sure Thing. (Rapid Reads).

Richard Wagamese.
Victoria, BC: Raven Books/Orca, 2011.
134 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55469-900-1.

Grades 10-12 / Ages 15-17.

Review by Jan Sahibzada.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



"You're a talent agent?"

"Well, let's just say I have an interest in people that can make me money.

"At the track?"

"I've found that talent isn't limited to a specific area"

"What does that mean exactly?"

"It means if you tell me who you like in this race and convince me to like them too, I'll add to the ten bucks you've got to bet with?"

"How do you know that ten bucks is all I have to bet with?"

He smiled again. "Well for one thing you just told me. For another, you're a blues player in a town with no blues scene, so you're not gigging much. Lastly, you have the look of someone looking for one good hit, no someone out at the track for an enjoyable afternoon in the sunshine."

"But you'd throw in with me if I tell you about this horse?"

He laughed and clapped me soundly on the back. It felt good. It felt all buddy buddy and masculine. "See, I knew you had a line on something. So if it's not Majestic image, who is it?"

I wound up telling him everything and for some reason it didn't really surprise me.


Cree Thunderboy is 23-years-old, doesn't have a girlfriend or car or a whole lot of money, but he does have two thing going for him. He's a pretty good guitar player and can play the blues like no one else in town, and he's pretty good at picking out a sure thing at the race track. Cree thinks he's on his way to becoming a blues sensation after he meets Win Hardy at the track one day. Win says he'll pay for studio time and help Cree make his first CD if he helps Win get lucky at the track. Taken in by the charismatic and confident Win, Cree agrees to work for him, and, before he knows it, he's found himself in for more than he ever could have bargained for. Now Cree has to deal with buffoon body guards, threats and even the mob. Cree has to find a way to get Win Hardy off his back and protect his family and friends.

      The Next Sure Thing is interesting and fast paced read. One of the biggest strengths of the novel is Cree and his best friend, Ashton. Cree is honest and well developed. The reader can't help but hope that he figures everything out because he truly is good person who made a few bad choices and was taken advantage of. The author does a good job of not putting off the reader by making Cree into a victim. Instead, Cree recognizes that he didn't see the situation for what it was, and then he intelligently works through everything. Ashton complements Cree well, and it's easy to see believe why the two characters are best friends. The novel handles the issue of gambling in a mature manner. Cree isn't a compulsive gambler and only puts money down when he's studied the horses and believes he's got a sure thing. He researches and interacts with jockeys and observes the horses.

      The Next Sure Thing is part of the "Rapid Reads" series that is aimed at reluctant adult readers. However, the book will appeal to older teen readers who are looking for something faster paced and shorter in length then some YA fiction. There is some detailed violence in the book, minor drinking and discussion of dealing drugs. Thus, the book is better suited for an older teen audience. Additionally, the section on understanding betting and odds does take some understanding to fully comprehend.


Jan Sahibzada is a Community Outreach Librarian for Calgary Public Library's Forest Lawn branch.

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

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