________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 4 . . . . October 15, 1999

cover Love Ya Like a Sister: A Story of Friendship (Taken from the Journal of Katie Ouriou).

Edited by Julie Johnston.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books (Distributed by McClelland & Stewart), 1999.
201 pp., paper, $8.99.
ISBN 0-88776-454-1.

Subject Headings:
Ouriou, Katie, 1980-1996-Correspondence.
Friendship-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.
Review by Joanne Peters.

** /4


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.

Susan remembered Katie arriving home from school one day in tears; she must have been in grade six, or maybe, seven. "Everybody hates me," Katie announced. "My friends all hate me." They had talked about this and it seemed to Susan that Katie had been trying to tell her friends everything she felt at a time when kids don't have much empathy for each other. She was getting laughed at. But she learned, got past it, started asking less of them and herself. She began to live life more than question it, biding her time until her friends got to the point in their lives where they, too, needed feedback about their relationships.

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.

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