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 15.2.
The death of her beloved mother—especially in the face of her father’s insensitivity—is a hard situation for teenaged Alice. And Alice does not deal with it well. Fortunately, Alice has her cousin Chloe, whose mother is as insensitive to her needs as Alice’s father. Together the two of them work to overcome their several problems. If “it takes a village to raise a child,” Shadow Boxing ultimately reveals the strength of community necessary to raise psychologically healthy teenagers.
Posesorski creates truly human characters: her teens are fallible and problematic, yet innocent and engaging. Her adults represent a fair and sufficiently comprehensive cross-section of urban Canadian life. The one less-realistic strain in the text is the extent to which some of the adults in Alice and Chloe’s lives are willing to go to help the girls, but Posesorski works to validate their motivations… and is for the most part successful.
What is most compelling in the text is the depiction of Alice’s grieving process. Her experiences imbue the novel with bibliotherapeutic power, but the emotions are so strong, and so real, that this power should be used judiciously. Young readers having experienced such a loss recently might do well to wait before reading Shadow Boxing, but at some moment, for some people, this text could powerfully facilitate healing.