CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 5. . . .September 30, 2011
Shattered. (Orca Soundings).
Sarah N. Harvey.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2011.
121 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55469-845-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55469-846-2 (hc.).
Grades 8-11 / Ages 13-16.
Review by Kay Weisman.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Tyler climbed out of the hot tub and wrapped a towel around his waist. I noticed his nipples were erect. I thought about how the last tongue on those nipples had not been mine. The sushi I had snacked on at work rose up in my throat. I swallowed hard as he took a step toward me, whining, "She brought vodka. You know what vodka does to me, babe. It didn't mean anything."
I kept shaking my head. Tyler and I had been friends since third grade and going out since we were thirteen. Four years. Neither of us has had sex with anyone else. Or so I thought. Now our relationship was as shattered as the bottle I had thrown at Kayla.
I put my hands up in front of me as Tyler approached. Isn't raising your hands, palms out, the universal symbol for "back off"? He should have stopped. But he didn't. Suddenly I wasn't frightened anymore. I felt strong. And angry. Angrier than I've ever been. His bare, wet chest collided with my palms and I shoved him—hard. He staggered and fell backward. All one hundred and seventy pounds of him. It was like felling a redwood with a steak knife.
Seventeen-year-old March Moser leads a perfect life—she's beautiful, popular, has a great job, loving parents, and an equally perfect boyfriend—until the night she finds him in a drunken, hot tub embrace with another girl. Seething with anger, she pushes him—making him fall and go into a coma. Panicked, she dials 911 and flees the scene, and eventually decides to do penance for her misdeeds by remaking her entire life so that it is ugly and difficult. She cuts and dyes her hair a "boring" brown, discards her contact lenses for her old red glasses, changes jobs, and chooses to ride the bus to work instead of driving.
Harvey, author of the much-heralded chick-lit novel The Lit Report (2008), here offers something for everyone: soft-core porn (see excerpt above), rude language, drugs and alcohol, shoplifting, vacuous teens, and some surprisingly old-fashioned ideas about atonement, thankfully delivered with a light touch in March's believable, acerbic voice. Once March gets beyond whining about the bus ("the loser cruiser") and how ugly she has made herself, she begins to realize that other people have real problems, like homelessness or drug abuse or losing a spouse. By the time Tyler awakens from his coma and shows his true (albeit shallow) colors, March has accepted responsibility for her actions and is ready to forgive herself (even if Tyler can't) and move on.
Like a sugary soft drink, Harvey's story is easily consumed and should have great appeal for teens that don't often pick up a book, especially those who think they aspire to life in the fast, gritty lane.
Kay Weisman is a Master of Arts in Children's Literature candidate at the University of British Columbia.
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