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 15.1.
The Middle of Everywhere
Noah is pleased to leave his bullied school life in Toronto to live for a year with his father, but moving to George River, in far northern Québec, seems to be going a bit far. It really is the middle of nowhere. Circumstances force him to engage with his father’s northern community, and he ultimately learns what it is his father loves and respects in this land and these people. For them, George River is the middle of everywhere.
Monique Polak has written a powerful novel that blends the emotional insecurities of young teenage boys with their need to be strong: socially, physically, emotionally. Noah’s internal monologue rings true; what he learns is a lesson young readers—male and female—can follow and believe in. The story itself interweaves social and familial drama with more exciting events, culminating in Noah meeting a polar bear in a blizzard while winter camping. To urban readers, this may seem overly clichéd, but Polak delivers her tale with a simplicity and realism that bring the readers into the northern world. Polak incorporates the customs and language of the Inuit seamlessly into her narrative, facilitating readers’ comfort and acceptance of her story, and helping us to feel that the world she depicts not only could be, but is, essentially true.