________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 15 . . . . March 30, 2001

cover Caught in a Lie.

Sylvia McNicoll.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2000.
230 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 0-590-24865-0.

Grades 7 - 10 / Ages 12 - 15.

Review by Christina Pike.

*** /4


At home after school, I check page 35 of Ms. Mode again and try to focus. They want a clear colour snapshot, which is why I need Jay, and fifty words about why I think I should be considered for their Great Model Search. I love clothes and make-up. I've been dressing up Barbies since I was three. I still like making outfits for them.

Does that sound too babyish? The girl they choose will travel the world, and they can't have some kid who still plays with dolls. I start again.

I love fashion and make-up and have been designing and sewing clothes since I was ten.

A little whitish lie never hurt.

I have studied models and modelling for a couple of years now. And while I enjoy working hard on beauty, I do have even skin tones and my best feature is my hair. I hope you will book an appointment for me when you are in Hamilton.

Yours sincerely,
Kimberly Rainer

Told from Kimberly Rainer's viewpoint, this is a story of a 14-year-old girl who wants to turn herself into a real life "Barbie." From the opening dream sequence, however, the readers are made aware that there is much more to this tale than simply the making of a model.

      Caught up in the world of fashion and make-up, Kim is obsessed with her image. Every decision she makes centres around her appearance. Kim is the focus of her world, and she sees and treats her "friends" as a means to help her reach her goal of becoming "Barbie." Her boyfriend, Jay, is good to have around because he compliments her good looks, and her friend Julie can take pictures. Typical of many this age, Kim feels that no one understands her, including her parents and, with the exception of her family studies teacher, Ms. Ferris, neither do any of her teachers. In her quest for that perfect modelling job, Kim sacrifices everything else: she cuts school, lies to her parents, and steals money from her college account. It is only when she is "caught in a lie" that she finally begins to realize what is truly important and really to see the people in her life for who they truly are.

      I would recommend this book as a good read for any young girl. Speaking through Kimberly Rainer, Sylvia McNicoll captures the spirit of a 14-year-old and clearly develops the main character and her journey to finding herself. The conflicts that Kim faces are believable and are reflective not only of today's misplaced emphasis on the physical but also of situations common today. Kim's experience with the Chevron Agency and Elaine Chev are echos of similar scams that seem all too frequently reported on the evening news. However, McNicoll, although realistic, chooses not to dwell on the negative. The lessons that Kim learns are gentle reminders to all of us: things are not always what they appear, and physical beauty is only skin deep.


Christina Pike is an English teacher and Resource Person at Ascension Collegiate, Bay Roberts, NF.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364