Friday, April 5, 2013

The Game of Life Isn't Always Fair

Expected Publication:  August 1st, 2013
By: Rachele Alpine
Medallion Press
ISBN-13:  9781605425870

Staying quiet will destroy her, but speaking up will destroy everyone.

Kate Franklin’s life changes for the better when her dad lands a job at Beacon Prep, an elite private school with one of the best basketball teams in the state. She begins to date a player on the team and quickly gets caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, learning that there are perks to being an athlete.

But those perks also come with a price. Another player takes his power too far and Kate is assaulted at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The world that Kate was once welcomed into is now her worst enemy, and she must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes.

Canary is told in a mix of prose and verse.

     Kate is desperate to keep her family together, but since her Mom died they've drifted dangerously apart from each other.  So when her Dad gets a new job coaching basketball at privileged Beacon Prep, she is more than happy to start school there.  Especially since it means she gets to leave behind all the 'friends' who deserted her when her Mom got sick with cancer.  Her brother Brett is angry and withdraws even more, especially when Kate starts hanging out with the popular kids who make fun of him all the time.  Enjoying the all of the perks that come with having a basketball God for a boyfriend, when things start to go downhill Kate starts to have serious doubts about who her real friends are and who's even worth her time.  When Kate is assaulted and tries to speak out, she needs to decided whether or not to let herself be silenced, or to speak the truth and maybe begin healing all the poisonous hurts in her life.  Will Kate be forced to choose between herself and her Dad before all is said and done?
     This book was really powerful.  At the beginning, Kate is a typical teenager worried about the shallow things in life.  She's focused on her appearance, popularity, getting a boyfriend and surviving high school.  But as the book moves forward, we get to see her changes as she matures.  The blog posts in a combination of prose and verse were a really nice touch and added an extra element of reality to the book for me personally.  When I was a teen, I wrote poetry constantly to express myself and I know that a lot of teens still do.  A poem can be a life-changing event.  As things go from bad to worse with the basketball boys and the popular girls, readers get to see Kate taking a stand for things she believes in (especially when they all attempt to cheat off of her homework) but letting things go too (like when they make fun of her brother Brett and his girlfriend Julia).  The decision that Brett makes to go into the military and the backstory/thoughts from when their Mom was sick, and how this all affected Kate definitely makes her more relatable.  I could see how after all that personal pain she'd be so mixed up about what her values were and what she wanted.  The way she handles the assault is realistic, but still portrays her as a strong girl who is willing to stand up for herself. 
     I liked that the author managed to show the Father's road back to his daughter from the major disconnect he's been in, without vilifying him to the readers.  When all is said and done, you are sure of the fact that he's a human being, albeit one who made some VERY huge mistakes.  All of the interactions with her boyfriend (who abandons Kate in favor of the team) and the girls who were her friends, but start bullying her after the assault were pretty realistic to how entitled/spoiled teens seem to react to things they see as threats to their freedom or way of thinking.  My only complaint would be the way Kate made excuses for Josh's douchebag/borderline abusive behavior for most of the book.  But I know it happens all the time in reality which makes me sad.  The ending was definitely in keeping with the overall, never-give-up strength and attitude of the rest of the book.  All in all I enjoyed it a lot, even when it was breaking my heart into tiny pieces.  A very emotional and gripping book that I would recommend to teens who like books dealing with real issues, reluctant readers, teachers and librarians.  Or anyone wanting a great book! :)
VERDICT:  4.75/5  Stars
*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It will be available for purchase on August 1st, 2013.*

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