Saskatoon StarPhoenix Review - Stay

The spring run from Coteau Books includes 3 titles of particular interest to Sask readers
Reviewed by: Bill Robertson

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Saskatoon poet Katherine Lawrence tries a whole new angle with Stay, a story for and about young adults written in a series of free verse poems. Clever idea, and Lawrence does a superb job of inhabiting her main character’s life without being either cocky or Disney-like. My 10-year-old granddaughter loved it.

Nearly 12-year-old Millie’s world is coming apart. Her mother and father are separating, her mother has texts coming in from a man with whom she sounds very intimate, her older sister is being a usual pain, and all Millie wants is a dog, which neither parent is prepared to give her. Millie is also a twin, but her brother died at birth and she talks to him constantly. These momentous events make up the poems and forward movement of Millie’s life as she tries to figure out what is happening to her.

She forms a bond with a First Nations woman out walking the dog she and a friend rescued from abuse, and Mrs. Tootoosis helps her with her dog situation and with life problems, as well. Lawrence has an ear for the appropriate and often clever pun: “If my hair/ could ask,/ would Mum/ brush/ and comb/the answer?” or the girl responding o Mum’s obvious lie that nothing will change with Dad: “helping him choose a tie:/ red plaid, diagonal stripes, daisy dots/ picked by the girl whose throat/ is now a Windsor knot.”

Lawrence credits help from a few classrooms of students, but it’s a good writer who parses those suggestions and skilfully combines the good ones with her own right instincts.

 

This is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

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