________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 13 . . . . March 3, 2000

cover Alone at Ninety Foot.

Katherine Holubitsky.
Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers, 1999.
169 pp., pbk. & cloth, $7.95 (pbk.), $18.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55143-129-7 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55143-127-0 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Parents-Death-Juvenile fiction.
Suicide-Juvenile fiction.
Maturation (Psychology)-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.
Review by Joan Marshall.

**** /4


I want her all in one piece, together, with Dad and I again. Sometimes, I get so, so mad at her for doing this to me. And at Dad, for letting it happen. I want this sadness that's been part of me since she died to go away. It's like this mean little animal deep inside me. Munching at my guts. Feeding on me day after day after day after day. Once in awhile taking a great vicious chomp. It hurts so much sometimes, it's just about more than I can take. Like today.
This powerful story about how a 14-year-old girl grieves for her mother is a funny, touching, compelling book that will appeal to middle school students who love to read about tragic lives. In the real world, suicide is a tragedy full of pain and questions asked by the survivors. And Pamela Collins, the protagonist in Alone at Ninety Foot, is no exception. She also deals with all the self-doubt that usually plagues adolescents. Her friends do stupid things, hurt her and support her. Her teachers are wonderful pictures clearly drawn from a 14-year-old's viewpoint. They alternately disgust and inspire her. Her father and his new girlfriend, Jenn, are also drawn with a firm hand. One of the most illuminating scenes in the book comes when Pam realizes that Jenn may have chosen to remain single because she loves her successful bank management career. Sometimes in control, often overcome with grief and tears, Pam finds solace in the nearby canyon where her mother, in the depths of depression, jumped to her death. It is here that Pam finds the peace that enables her to hold her life together.

It is obvious that Holubitsky has been listening to middle school students talk. The dialogue is fresh and funny and will keep this age of reader nodding and sighing in agreement - "Yes, that's the way it is!"

How do you behave in the face of your beloved mother's suicide? Especially when the rest of your life is so unpredictable? Holubitsky draws a convincing portrait of grief and how to continue to live that should be shared with every student in this age group.

Highly Recommended.

Joan Marshall is the teacher-librarian and enrichment facilitator at Henry G. Izatt Middle School in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364