________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 13 . . . . March 4, 2005


Cross My Heart.

Jocelyn Shipley.
Toronto, ON: Sumach Press, 2004.
126 pp., pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 1-894549-32-5.

Subject Headings:
Maturation(Psychology) - Juvenile fiction.
Self-acceptance - Juvenile fiction.

Grades 8-11 / Ages 13-16.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**** /4


Since Carol-Anne was only inviting Pete and Kenny and me, she decided the two of us would just have the Pretty-Up Party first. That meant we'd get ready together, which Modern Miss said would make everything more fun! Then Pete and Kenny would come over after work. "Don't worry," Carol-Anne said. "It'll be dark by then, your parents won't see him come over."

For the Pretty-Up Party, I went to Carol-Anne's at four o'clock and we washed and set our hair. I'd brought Elissa's portable dryer, and while I sat under it, Carol-Anne did her nails, then we switched around. With her birthday money Carol-Anne had bought a bottle of nail polish and a matching lipstick in a new colour called Honolulu Honey, which she shared with me.

Next, she made me put on foundation and eye make-up to impress Kenny. "You better tease your hair too," she said. "Here, let me help ya." While she worked on me, I kept hearing Mom's voice saying: "Well! That certainly looks cheap! And Melanie's voice saying: God, what a slut!"


In this collection of eight short stories, award-winning Canadian author Jocelyn Shipley takes us back to the days of Bobby Vinton and the Beatles. A new outfit was red shorts and a carefully ironed gingham top. Bridesmaids chose dresses of mauve organdy with puffed sleeves and pink sashes. In the cover illustration and throughout the stories there are echoes of the 1960's era.

     However, the book is much more than a trip down memory lane. The stories deal with coming-of-age issues which will strike a chord with modern teenage readers because they are so true to life and honest. Issues and themes are varied. As the narrator, Jill Summerfield, matures from a 13-year-old to an 18-year-old, we see how her relationship with her parents evolves. We watch her deal with the dating experience: crushes on boys and teachers, her first kiss, love and sex. In fact, Shipley touches on everything form death to wild girlfriends to push-up bras to religion!!

     There is comedy and humour in most of the stories, although it is often rather dark. The eight stories are linked both by character and setting so readers truly feel a part of Jill's family and her wider circle of friends within her small Ontario town. Jill matures through out the stories and deals with all the pleasures and pains of the teenage years.

     Sumach Press states that they are "publishers of dynamic feminist writing with a critical perspective." Certainly these are strong stories dealing with universal themes, and thus they should have wide appeal among teenage readers.

Highly Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson is a former teacher of high school English and French and is currently the Teacher-Librarian at Peterborough Collegiate in Peterborough, ON.

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

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