CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 20. . . . January 26, 2018
And so, begins Zoe Whittall’s The Middle Ground, the story of how far one young woman will go just to escape her ordinary life.
Meet Missy Turner, one of the most normal people in the world. She has a great husband, a fantastic son, and a job that she really enjoys, but that all changes in the blink of an eye. After sending her son to camp for the summer, Missy goes to work only to find out that she is being laid off and her boss is selling the company. To make matters worse, once she goes home to tell her husband the news, she discovers that he is having an affair with their neighbour. Desperate and despondent, Missy goes to the local café to deal with all the drama, but, once again, her whole life changes in the blink of an eye when a thief comes to rob the café.
Going against every instinct she has ever known, Missy decides to help the burglar escape. She even goes so far as to lie to the cops to help him get away. For reasons unknown to her, Missy feels sympathetic towards Roger, a single father who feels like he has no other choice but to steal for his family. As Missy gets more and more entangled in Roger’s life, she comes to realize that maybe living an ordinary life isn’t so bad.
Written for an adult audience, The Middle Ground is a well-written, fast-paced novel that deals with some very real issues that affect teenagers today. Some very serious moral questions arise out of the book, such as what is the difference between right and wrong, and is the distinction between the two always so clear cut? Morality aside, the main protagonist must also deal with her own identity crisis and try to reconcile who she was prior to the robbery versus after. Many young adults have had to deal with these very same issues and can relate to Missy’s struggles throughout the novel.
I would recommend The Middle Ground to both young and mature readers alike. Although the novel is not lengthy Whittall manages to pack in a ton of action and drama in this highly enjoyable read.
Teresa Iaizzo is a librarian with the Toronto Public Library.