________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 11 . . . . November 16, 2012


A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag.

Gordon Korman.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1985/2012.
238 pp., trade pbk., $9.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-1950-4.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.




This time Sean didn’t even snap at his partner. He was not at all pleased that he kept seeing Ashley glancing in Steve’s direction as she danced. “I didn’t know there was such a thing as sleeveless armour.”

“There isn’t,” Raymond scowled. “He probably spent all afternoon cutting the sleeves off with a can opener. But you’ll notice he’s wearing the gauntlets. That’s to make it easier to scratch away any weeds that grow up through cracks in the cement!”

As the song that was playing ended, an oppressive silence fell, and Raymond and Sean looked at the deejay’s booth to find Mindy O’Toole standing at the microphone, with Danny Eckerman right behind her.

“Attention, everybody. Before we go back to the dancing and the fun, let’s have a warm round of applause for the person who made this party possible, our student body president, Danny Eckerman!”

Sean looked to see Raymond’s reaction, but Raymond was no longer beside him. What the students then saw happened so fast that many of them weren’t sure what to make of it.

Raymond Jardine is desperate to spend his summer in Greece. He’s tired of working at his uncle’s fish plant during the holiday, and he wants to see if “the magical luck” of Theamelpos, Greece, will bring good fortune and happiness into his life like it has for others who visited the area. When Raymond discovers the basketball star of the high school, Sean Delancey, has signed up for one of the six coveted spots available on the trip, he decides to use Sean’s popularity to his advantage. He convinces Sean they can both be selected to go on the trip if they work together to improve their grades and their standing in the school. Unfortunately, the poet they pick to study to improve their English grade has only written one poem, and he’s dead. The Halloween party they volunteer to organize for the school ends with the arrival of the fire department, and the fake hockey team they put together becomes more real than they envisioned. The friends, who bond over their affection for a certain classmate, learn that lies and deceit come at a price, and that results often come about by hard work, not luck.

      Readers who enjoy the humour in This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall will appreciate the antics in this re-released edition (originally published in 1985). Raymond and Sean are likeable, well-rounded characters who have memorable personalities and quirks. In a secondary plot line, technology goes awry in the high school and in Sean’s home. This creates drama during the school day and tension in Sean’s family. The story concludes with a happy ending that surprises and an epilogue that hints on how ‘luck’ will continue to plague Raymond’s future.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

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

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