The Observer review of Peacekeepers

The Observer
Reviewed by: Carolyn Pogue, The Observer

Labels are handy for your preserves and files, but when it comes to a good book, a label can be misleading. Peacekeepers, Edmonton’s Diane Linden’s first novel, is labeled “juvenile fiction,” but this beautiful, multi—layered story is for everyone.

Peacekeepers tells the story of Nellie Letitia, a junior high school student and her young brother Lester B. (Are maple leaves beginning to appear on the edges of your mind?) These bright children live with their uncle because their single mom is serving as a peacekeeper in Bosnia. Linden skillfully weaves together the lives of this little family with peace in the school halls and peace on the international stage. The story rings true. Nell deals with her responsibility for a younger brother, her rage at her mom for “caring more about kids in a far-away country than she does for her own children,” with school bullies, with an uncle who knows nothing about parenting, and with the fact that, through e-mails, she becomes caught up in the tragic story of a little boy named Edin whose daily life includes the nightmare of landmines.

We all know that the world has shrunk quickly during the past decade or so, but that is an adult perspective. Children growing up today take for granted that what happens upstream affects those living downstream, and what happens to a little boy in Bosnia – or Israel, Palestine, Sudan or the U.S. – affects children in Yellowknife, Edmonton or Fredericton. This fast-paced book reflects that knowledge while holding us close to the family living in the story.

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