CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 6. . . .October 11, 2013
The Rule of Thirds.
Toronto, ON: ECW Press, 2013.
186 pp., trade pbk., $9.95.
Grades 10-12 / Ages 15-17.
Review by Sarah Clark.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
“You must be Philadelphia. It’s so nice to meet you in person.”
We do the usual adult-teenager meeting mumbo-jumbo. Shaking hands and all that. She gets a few points after I call her Ms. Grange and she tells me I can call her “Glenys.”
“Want to grab a seat?” Glenys points to a chair beside her desk. “I just wanted to check in and see how things are going?” she says in her high-pitched voice.
“Really?” I say.
“Yes. Hannah said she saw you yesterday, sitting in the hallway with your head between your knees.”
Glenys’s eyes are wide. “She was worried about you. Some people just can’t handle hospitals, Philadelphia. So how are you doing?”
You know what? If another person asks me how I’m doing I’m going to – well, I don’t know. Something. Something crazy.
Following in her father's footsteps, Philadelphia Green, aka Pippa, dreams of being a renowned photographer. As president of her high school photography club, she seems to be off to good start, although this year, Pippa has her sights set on a much bigger goal: winning Vantage Point, a photography competition that offers a full-paid scholarship to one of the best photography schools around – the same one her dad had studied at before starting his own career. But, although her future looks bright, it's Pippa’s past that keeps getting in the way. Though proud of the man he was, Pippa struggles to accept the reality of her father’s death, having lost him to cancer only a few months earlier. Traumatized by the event and its aftermath, she attempts to fight off frequent panic attacks provoked by memories of her father as an ailing patient; an issue that only worsens once Pippa returns to the hospital as a volunteer; a requirement for all junior and senior students. At first, the whole thing doesn't seem so bad, especially when Pippa realizes her current crush, Dylan McCutter, is an established hospital volunteer himself. But does the prospect of spending more time with Dylan provide enough of an incentive to distract Pippa from the painful memories and panic attacks that threaten to overtake her completely? Being back in the hospital is no easy task, and possibly, one that Pippa might not be strong enough to handle.
Though it’s not always common to find a young adult novel willing to explore the emotional repercussions provoked by the loss of a loved one, The Rule of Thirds bravely sets out to accomplish this task. Though the novel’s storyline is quite traditional in its inclusion of subplots involving trouble with boys and rocky friendships, author Chantel Guertin strays from predictability in her ability to weave elements of mystery and intrigue into the plot, helping rouse the curiosity of her readers and encourage the audience to stay invested in the story from beginning to end. Guertin also triumphs in employing a bit of playful humor which nicely contrasts the novel’s more serious themes, allowing readers to experience a wide range of emotion during their reading experience. Though likely to draw in a predominantly female audience based on its overall content, The Rule of Thirds ventures beyond the mundane comforts of the average teenage problem novel, and instead, explores deeper issues using a creative plot and a flowing narrative, helping to solidify this novel as a well-rounded and engaging option for readers.
Sarah Clark is a liaison librarian at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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