________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 22 . . . . February 10, 2012


When I Kill You.

Michelle Wan.
Victoria, BC: Raven Books/Orca Books, 2012.
139 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55469-990-2.

Grades 12 and up / Ages 17 and up.

Review by Christina Pike.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



"Are you Gina Lopez?" Her voice had a hoity-toity lift to it.

"Lady Lava to you," I said. "Look, I'm not signing autographs right now. If you don't mind." I pushed through and headed to the shower.

She followed me in and shut the door behind her. "I don't want your autograph I want to talk to you."

Oh cripes, I thought. Not another one who wants to tell me mud wrestling is un-Christian or degrading to women. I keyed open the locker where my stuff was stowed.

"Can't it wait?" I peeled off my wrestling suit. She looked away, like seeing me was improper. I stepped into the stall and turned the water on full bore.

But she wasn't going to be put off. She went on talking at me while I showered. I could see her mouth working through the gap in the curtain even though I couldn't hear her. I took my time soaping off and followed with a good long rinse.

"Hand me my towel, will you," I said when I had finished. I pointed to my stuff in the open locker. She didn't oblige. Instead she got pushy. "I said, in case you didn't hear me, I saw what you did."

"Well, it wasn't my best performance," I had to admit. I brushed past her to get the towel myself. She jumped back, like getting wet would ruin her clothes.

"I'm not talking about your wrestling," she said. "I'm talking about the tenth of July, Lover's Leap."

In When I Kill You, Wan presents her main character, 26-year-old Gina Lopez, a postal worker by day and ladies' mud wrestler in the evening trying to make it big. Waiting on the quarter million dollar insurance payment for the accidental death of her husband, Gina meets Marcia Beekland. It is at this meeting that things for Gina begin to unravel rather quickly. Gina finds herself caught in a situation where she does not feel she has a choice but to comply with Marcia's blackmail demands. The problem is that Gina is a wrestler, not a killer.

      Wan begins her story with the main conflict. She uses flashback to fill in the gaps and then fast forwards when things seem resolved. Through Wan's storytelling, the reader is drawn into Gina's story of hard luck and battles alongside Gina as she tries to do what is right. Suspense is built throughout as Gina struggles with her inner demons, trying to decide if she can follow through on the demands Marcia has placed on her. Near the end, the reader discovers Marcia's deceit with Gina and is left with the same sense of awe.

      A good read, well written.

Highly Recommended.

Christina Pike is the Principal of St. Paul's Junior High in St. John's, NL.

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

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