________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 7. . . .October 18, 2013


Days That End in Y.

Vikki VanSickle.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2013.
194 pp., trade pbk. & EBK, $8.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4431-2432-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-2455-3 (EBK).

Grades 6-10 / Ages 11-15.

Review by Ruth McMahon.

***˝ /4


“I love fireworks,” Benji says. “Don’t you?”

“Isn’t this a perfect night?” Mattie adds. “Couldn’t you stay here forever? You know, Clarissa, we do this kind of thing at camp all the time. Except instead of fireworks we go stargazing. I really think you should reconsider –“

“Mattie stop!” I groan, rolling away from her camp pep talk. “You’re ruining the moment.”

I get to my knees, look back at my mother, and then I freeze. Doug is kneeling in the grass in front of my mother’s chair, holding a little, dark box in his hands. I don’t need x-ray vision to know there’s a ring inside.


Doug's proposal to Clarissa's mom, Annie, at the July 1st Canada festivities is the catalyst for the quest Clarissa will undertake in her summer between middle school and high school.

     Fans of VanSickle's series will know Clarissa's history: her mom’s being a breast cancer survivor, her friendship with Mattie, her struggle to keep her friendship with Benji positive as his dramatic career takes off and hers falters, and her budding romance with Michael.

     In Days That End in Y, Clarissa's mother's engagement has Clarissa asking questions about her biological father, Bill Davies, who is not part of her life. She knows about him, from things her mother has said, from photos, her mother`s high school yearbook, and things she has learned about from her mother`s best friend, Denise. What she doesn`t know is why her father, who lives at the other end of the country, has never tried to contact her. An unexpected sighting of Bill Davies at one of Michael's baseball games sends Clarissa on a mission to meet her father. Clarissa`s quest turns up some unsavoury pieces of history, realistically and adeptly handled by VanSickle.

     The plotline in Days That End in Y keeps the reader turning pages, is realistic, and has no easy answers or fixes. The characters are all believable, well-rounded and engaging. With the story being told in Clarissa`s voice, readers are privy to her thoughts and prejudices, but that approach doesn`t stop readers from getting credible insight into the motivations, emotions and intellect of the other characters.

     I was particularly taken with the character development of Clarissa, appraising her maturation through this novel as she struggles within her almost-high-school knowledge set to come to terms with her family history and the impeding wedding and new familial arrangement. I was impressed by VanSickle's skill at making Clarissa's voice mature over the course of the novel. As the mother of a daughter who just started grade nine, I feel confident in saying VanSickle got this right.

      The first two novels in this series, Words That Begin with B and Love is a Four-Letter Word, have been popular with my middle school clientele, and I am sure this novel will be just popular. Another advantage is the previous two books do not have to be read in order for the reader to enjoy this title. Days That End in Y is a great choice for middle school and public libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Ruth McMahon, mother of two teenaged daughters, is a professional librarian working in a Middle School library in Alberta.

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

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