CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 19 . . . . January 20, 2012
One Way. (Orca Soundings).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2012.
125 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-45980-172-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-45980-173-8 (hc.).
Grades 7-11 / Ages 12-16.
Review by Beth Wilcox.
**1/2 / 4
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
I don’t know how I get through the rest of the day. My feet take me to my classes, which I enter without looking at anyone. I sit down and stare at my desk all afternoon. No one says a word to me, but I swear I can feel all those eyes drilling into me, and I imagine they are all thinking what Karyn is thinking—that it’s all my fault that Stassi is in the hospital. And they’re right. It is all my fault.
Norah McClintock’s latest novel for the “Orca Soundings” series, One Way, explores ideas of guilt and the ramifications of careless actions. Kenzie doesn’t think twice when he decides to ride his bike the wrong way down a one-way street. However, he becomes distracted and accidentally hits his ex-girlfriend, Stassi, seriously injuring her. Stassi is hospitalized with brain damage, and Kenzie must reevaluate the significance of his actions and cope with his sense of guilt. Kenzie’s problems seem to become more personal and direct when allegations arise that he purposefully caused the collision. Kenzie rashly decides to figure out who the alleged witness is and confront him or her.
McClintock’s story is faced-paced and well-suited to the high-interest, low-vocabulary format of the “Orca Soundings” series. As part of the series, One Way is 125 pages long, with a large typeface and a maximum reading level of 4.5. The reader is quickly drawn into Kenzie’s mistake and his ensuing struggles. Having been told the story of the accident from Kenzie’s point of view, the reader knows that Kenzie did not intentionally hurt Stassi and his somewhat immature actions are believable and interesting.
While the protagonist and accident are believable, the novel has a tidy ending that seems contrived and is mismatched for the subject matter. The bulk of the novel borders on didactic when the author emphasizes the importance of fully considering one’s actions. However, the novel’s resolution abruptly abandons this message. Kenzie conveniently discovers video footage of the accident that shows Mandi, a girl who had a crush on Kenzie, pushing Stassi into traffic. Kenzie is cleared of all his major legal problems, and Stassi wakes up in the hospital asking for him. Hence, the novel’s resolution implies that the accident was not really caused by Kenzie’s careless actions but by Mandi’s irrational and selfish jealously. Although Kenzie is a likable character and the reader is happy to see him escape his problems, the nature of the escape seems bizarre and leaves the reader confused.
For those readers who enjoy drama and emotional novels but hate to give up happy endings, One Way is sure to entertain.
Beth Wilcox is a teacher in the Ottawa area and a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature graduate from the University of British Columbia.
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