Sixteen-year-old Sally is the only survivor when a car full of teenagers plunges through the ice to the bottom of Mistik Lake. Many years later, Sally’s daughter Odella is left wondering whether the accident is to blame for her mother’s life as a sad alcoholic who eventually abandons her family and flees to Iceland with another man. Odella, her father and two younger sisters are almost overwhelmed with grief and confusion until three people provide help and healing in unexpected ways: Jimmy Tomasson, with whom Odella embarks on a passionate and tender love affair; Odella’s great-aunt Gloria, the keeper of family secrets; and an eccentric middle-aged butcher named Gerald.
This stunning new novel from Governor General’s Award winner Martha Brooks explores what happens when you don’t have the courage to follow your own heart, and what can happen when you do.
After reading Mistik Lake, which won the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Award, I now understand why it shocked the pants off a Grade 8 teacher who had wanted to use the book as a Literacy Circle Book. I personally enjoyed the book thoroughly, loved its characters and their development in the story, but the book does deal with some mature themes that may make some people a tad uncomfortable.
We have an alcoholic Mom who abandons her family and has children from 3 different men; Aunt Gloria who is a lesbian; a young boy with a schizophrenic Mom; and a family full of grief and confusion. For a Literacy Circle Book, this would just be too many “major” themes to deal with for some kids all at once. Considering children develop and mature at different rates, what one child may be ready to deal with at a certain age, another may not. Also, I personally think, having had children of my own go through the school system, that some of the parents I knew would take issue with some of these themes being taught in a novel in the classroom.
I still highly recommend this book for any adult and any young adult age 16 and over. Martha Brooks is a good Canadian author who has written some other great books for kids. This was very, very well done and at only 206 pages, it was a quick enjoyable read.