________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 6. . . . November 16, 2001

cover The Game.

Teresa Toten.
Calgary, AB: Red Deer Press, 2001.
208 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 0-88995-232-9.

Subject Headings:
Mental illness-Juvenile fiction.
Abusive parents-Juvenile fiction.
Psychiatric hospitals-Juvenile fiction.
Teenagers and death-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Anne Letain.

**** /4


Isolation, F Ward, February 11, 8:36 pm - It was a small room, arid and empty. Except for the bed, and of course, the girl.

"No," Dani flung her arms to her face. "No more, no Daddy, Daddy please..."

Although this riveting novel is called The Game, it might as well be titled "The Puzzle" for it is indeed a page turner of the first order that compels the reader to keep going to the ultimate revelation. When the book opens, we find Dani Webster on the floor of the Riverbend Clinic, a psychiatric facility for problem teens. With consummate skill and a fine radar for current teen culture and language, Teresa Toten peels back the circumstances of Dani's troubled world to reveal the perplexing and sinister truths of her life.

     Dani's life before hospitalization has been tenuously held together by "The Game" played with her younger sister, Kelly, in a determined effort to cope with her mother's distance and her father's perfectionism. When she arrives at the clinic in a haze of drugs and alcohol, we know something has snapped. But, what?

     With Toten's intricate plotting that never misses a beat, we become enmeshed in Dani's story. There is strength and appeal in Toten's characters, adult and teen alike. As well as Dani, we are instinctively drawn to Scratch, an admitted self-multilator, and gender troubled Kevin whose family cannot accept his homosexuality. Though Scratch and Kevin are as flawed as Dani, it is their friendship and compassion that lead Dani to health and the truth.

     Red Deer Press calls this book "cool new teen fiction." It is, and it should stand out in this fall's crop of new offerings. It is absorbing and wonderful. But one small quibble - why does such a fine example of Canadian writing have to be set in New York? The answer, of course, is obvious but disappointing all the same.

Highly Recommended.

Anne Letain is a teacher-librarian and school library consultant in Southern Alberta.

Note: The Game was nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award in the English Juvenile Literature category.

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