CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 4 . . . . October 15, 1999
The last few paragraphs were about friendship. Friends have been Katie's world, although making friends and keeping them had not always come easily. She'd always been so super-sensitive about her relationships, imagining any slight as being out-and-out hostility.Love Ya Like a Sister begins with the end of Katie Ouriou's life. Returning home to Calgary from Paris after her daughter dies of a rare and rapidly-fatal leukemia, Susan Ouriou begins reading the print-outs of nearly a year of Katie's e-mail correspondence to her three closest friends. Award-winning children's author Julie Johnston has edited Katie's e-mail journals, most of which ended with the closing, LYLAS (love ya like a sister), and the result is a book with that title. In her prolific e-mail messages, Katie emerges as a kind and loving friend, and her photos depict a very attractive young woman. No saint, she can be critical of relatives and the tensions of family life, yet she is intensely interested in the spiritual and talks openly of conversations with God and her meditations on the nature of faith. E-mail makes daily contact with schoolmates back at St. Mary's High School in Calgary possible, and, if absence makes the heart grow fonder, Katie and friends were closer than ever despite geographical distance. Katie's untimely death was undoubtedly devastating to family and friends. For this reason, a less-than-positive review of this book can appear cynical or dismissive. But I did not find this book or Katie's life to be particularly exceptional; this is a "girl" book, and I'm not certain that girls beyond the age of 13 will find it engaging or interesting. Although Katie was living in Paris, her life is really fairly ordinary: going out exploring, descriptions of cute guys, problems with school, fights with parents are all the everyday stuff of teenage life. Love Ya Like a Sister is a "nice" book about a nice girl who died altogether too young.
Recommended with reservations.
Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.
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