________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 20 . . . . January 27, 2012


Breaking Point. (Orca Soundings).

Lesley Choyce.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2012.
124 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 hc.).
ISBN 978-1-45980-128-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-45980-129-5 (hc.).

Grades 7-12 / Grades 12-17.

Review by Kay Weisman.

**½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



I ran for the boathouse and slipped inside, where it was even darker than outside. I waited for my eyes to adjust. Then I saw her. She had found a pack and was shoving things into it.


“The weather’s good,” she said. “No wind. No waves. I’ve got a few things that were around here. I have a good feeling about this.”

“Me too,” I lied. My eyes were a little adjusted now. I needed to get my wits about me and make sure we did this right. I reached for the life jackets and tossed her one.

She tossed it back. “I don’t think we need these things. You can swim, right?”

Well, the answer would have been, “barely.” But it wasn’t about swimming. It was about surviving in that cold North Atlantic water if we dumped. “Brianna, you have to wear one.” My tone was harsh, insistent.

There was a pause and I caught a glimpse of her face. I thought she was about to tell me to get lost. Instead, she said a rather sarcastic, “fine.” And she put on the life jacket and snapped the clasps. I did the same. I knew we were carving out new territory here. I’d been reckless all my life and now I’d hitched myself to someone more reckless than me. Great.

After his most recent conviction for breaking and entering, Cameron is sent to an alternative juvenile detention facility—an outdoors program on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. There he meets Brianna, a girl with multiple convictions for selling drugs at her school. The two bond and hatch a secret plan to escape the facility by kayak with Montreal as their ultimate goal. Cameron goes along with the plan mostly because he is attracted to Brianna, even though he senses her wayward ways will get him into big trouble. They make their getaway just as a hurricane begins heading up the coast, causing their plans to go predictably awry.

      Cameron is a typical Choyce anti-hero: an impulsive, angry, smart aleck with a weakness for bad girls and ill-considered decisions. He knows all the ropes of detention centers—as well as how to skirt inconvenient rules; what’s less clear is why such a smart kid can’t figure out anything better to do with his time than repeated breaking and entering. Mostly through Cameron’s efforts, the two survive the storm. Brianna later deserts him; he pursues her; and, surprisingly, in the end, she insists that they both give themselves up. Cameron seems to accept that he will never see the scheming Brianna again, but it’s less clear if he sees a law-abiding future for himself.

      Choyce’s writing style is clear and concise, with minimal attention paid to setting and descriptions. The hi-low format—with its emphasis on plot, action, short chapters, and large font—assures that teens reading below grade level can easily follow the story’s fast pace.


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

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

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