This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults. It appears in volume 15.4.
Given the intent of the Orca Soundings series to provide “short high-interest novels with contemporary themes, written expressly for teens reading below grade level” (Orcabooks.com), this novel ostensibly serves its purpose. But in many ways, it misses its mark. The premise is sound: Ria’s privileged world is shattered when her father is determined to be guilty of financial fraud, and many members of her community are effected. Her almost-too-good-to-be-true boyfriend, Colin, is one of the victims, and (reasonably) has a problem associating with Ria afterwards. But the character development in the story—given its short length—fails to present the complexities of the psychology that must be functioning in such a situation. We do not know what Colin is thinking or feeling, how Ria really feels towards her father, nor why she makes the assumptions and decisions she does. Taking her younger brother and running away from the situation on the spur of the moment (without sufficient clothing, money, or medicine) seems both thoughtless and improbable, as does her father’s turning himself in when the children are posted as missing. Over all, the story does not supply sufficient character motivation in the crises presented, nor does it provide closure for the reader; we know that Ria and Colin speak at the end, but the relationship between the two remains indeterminable in the face of all the other questions left open in Ria’s life.