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 16.1
Molly’s Cue fills a niche in children’s literature similar to the one Jane Austen’s Emma (1815) fills for adults. Like Emma, Molly has it all: she is confident, talented, and sure of her future. Like Emma, Molly needs to learn to respect others for their abilities—more, less, or just different from her own—and to understand how she can best contribute to the world around her. For Molly, this learning is painful, and takes most of her first year of highschool, the time-frame of the novel. The superficial issue is drama, and its connection with Molly’s recently deceased grandmother, “Grand.” When Molly learns the truth about Grand’s relationship to theatre and the stage, her belief in her legacy of dramatic ability dissolves. Her confidence shattered, she almost drops out of drama class. With the help of her teacher, her best friend, Candace, and Candace’s new boyfriend, Molly rediscovers her artistic voice, and begins a journey into her future that readers will not only appreciate but possibly emulate.
Entwined with Molly’s negotiation of stagecraft, Acheson weaves the story of the adults in Molly’s life: her friend Candace’s pregnant, unmarried mother; Grand, who worshipped the stage but never performed on it; Molly’s widowed mother, supportive but strained by the demands of those around her; and Molly’s immature uncle “Early,” whose own need to grow up is instrumental in Molly’s budding recognition of her place in her family and her community. The characters are heart-warmingly real; their troubles are expressed sympathetically, in a manner that is not overwhelmingly angst-inducing. The balance Acheson has developed between affectionate emotional attachment and interpersonal conflict strongly resembled one of my favourite authors, Glen Huser; Molly’s Cue can sit beside Huser’s Touch of the Clown (1999) with pride in achieving a positive and strong voice for the artistic child reader to hear.