Sunday 15 January 2017

Post on a “back to the routine” Sunday…

So I’ve been back to my usual routine for a week now, and while I really like following a routine, I realize that I would have really enjoyed an extra week off.   Oh well, there’s always the Family Day long weekend to look forward to… *sigh*.  

I read almost nothing this past week, but the week before, after writing my post on the Friday, I finished reading that Young Adult classic, I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan.  Duncan, who passed away this past year, has written many Children’s and Young Adult books, but this title may be her most famous one, since it was adapted into a Hollywood slasher film, including a sequel.  I have never seen the films, but one of her books, Summer of Fear, is one of my favourites from childhood, a real suspense story of the sort that I still enjoy today.  I’m not sure why this title piqued my interest at this time, but I decided to read it and find out if I would enjoy any of Duncan’s other teen suspense stories.  This novel concerns four young people, one in high school, one in college, one working at the local TV station, and one taking a year off to work and experience life.  While they each seem to be following their own paths, they share a dark secret:  the summer before, while out on a double-date, they killed a boy while driving too fast under the influence.  They never reported the crime, just moved on and tried to put it behind them, but these things have a way of resurfacing when you least expect it.  When one of the members of the group receives an anonymous note in the mail stating “I know what you did last summer”, she contacts the others to see what, if anything, they should do about this.  Did someone see them?  Could there be a witness they didn’t know about who has come to reveal their deadly past?  One by one, they each receive some kind of notification from this anonymous person, implicating them in the young boy’s death.  When violence strikes, they must band together and decide how to fight this threatening individual before more violence occurs.  This book was written in 1973, but the film, which was “loosely based on the book”, did not come out until 1997.  I read the notes at the back of the book, including the interview with the author.  She says that she updated several of her books before they were reissued, adding things like cell phones and computers, and changing some of the outfits to reflect the changing styles, but keeping the basic stories the same.  She also said that, when she went to see the film when it was first released, she thought she’d walked into the wrong theatre, as there were no hook-wearing, raincoated individuals in her novel.  Reading the book, I could understand why she would need to update, as kids these days would not understand much about the way things were in 1973, when all phones were anchored to a particular location and once you left the house, you could be out of range of communication for hours at a stretch!  (It’s quite amazing that we all survived and remained relatively safe!!)  It was an interesting, very quick read, but I think I still enjoyed Summer of Fear more, perhaps because I have a sentimental attachment to that one.

And speaking of Children’s novels, I read another one last week that was quite good, one that has been nominated for the Ontario Library Association Forest of Reading Silver Birch Fiction award.  Everyday Hero by Kathleen Cherry tells the story of Alice, a twelve-year-old girl with Asperger’s who has recently moved from Vancouver to Kitimat, BC, a move that includes a new house, new school, and (her father hopes) new friends.  Somehow, the files from her old school containing her condition diagnosis and assessment did not arrive, so no one knows about her condition at her new school, which her father believes might be to Alice’s advantage, hopefully helping her to have a more normal life… until Alice ends up in detention, again and again and again.  But while in detention, she meets Megan, a social outcast who, realizing Alice’s special needs, forms an unlikely friendship with her.  When Megan decides to run away to Vancouver to escape her stepfather’s abuse, it is Alice who comes to the rescue, despite her insecurities and challenges.  This book reminded me very much of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, so much so that I think of it as the “Canadian version”.  It was heartwarming and frustrating, but ultimately uplifting, and I’m sure if I had never read Haddon’s excellent book, I would have really, really enjoyed Cherry’s novel.  Even so, I’m sure this book will appeal to many middle-grade readers, and will be a strong contender for the 2017 Silver Birch Fiction Award.

That’s all for today.  Have a wonderful Sunday, and remember to stay warm and keep reading!

Bye for now…

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