________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 4. . . .September 23, 2011


Living Rough. (Orca Currents).

Cristy Watson.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2011.
107 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55469-434-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55469-888-2 (hc.).

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Dana L. Coates.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Pictures of my dad, my mom and me filled the pages pictures of our life before.

I missed that time. I missed my mom. My fingers ran across photos of her last Christmas we all shared together. Her smile lit up the page. It reminded me of Inna.

Funny how something great, like meeting a cool girl, can happen at the same time as the absolute worst thing in your life.

Before I closed my eyes, I decided I'd ask Ben to borrow his computer in the morning. I had an important message to share with Inna. I only had to find a site that translated my words into her language. Hopefully, she'd still give me a chance.


Poe is a typical student trying to avoid teachers to keep his secret from being discovered. His secret is that he is living in a tent with his dad because his mom passed away with cancer. Even though he lives in a tent, he still walks to school, rain or shine. Poe's loving father helps him with his homework. In return, he helps the new Ukrainian girl, Inna, and he ends up liking her. Poe continues to go to great lengths not to be found out, but, when his dad breaks his arm during a big storm, they have no choice but to seek medical attention at a hospital where news reporters are all over the place.

     Living Rough, which offers a real-life example of a student living a tough teenage life, was written for reluctant readers, and so it is both an easy read and a short book. The plot is well planned out, including the suspense of Poe's secret. The books has teen issues that range from fear of a secret being found out to finding that first love. Author Cristy Watson, a teacher, writes life-like school scenes, and her dialogue is realistic as to what the teachers and students would actually say. The fact that the author is female does not hinder the story that is realistically written from a boy's point of view.

      Overall, Living Rough is a realistic novel that involves teen issues to which its intended audience can relate. Themes include homelessness, friendship, and responsibility. The plot, dialogue, and characters make this book interesting and well worth the read for a broader audience than just reluctant readers.


Highly Recommended.

Dana L. Coates is a grade 6 teacher in Norway House, MB.

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

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