October 13, 2011

Mind Gap

by Marina Cohen
Dundurn Press
168 pp.
Ages 12+

There's teen angst and there's teen anguish.  Jake MacRae sadly is experiencing the second, probably because of the first.  At 14, Jake has been trying to fit in, through drinking, gambling and sneaking around, and now he and best-friend, Cole, are being recruited to make a delivery for the 5 King Tribe, a local gang.  With his father abandoning the family ten years earlier, and now Jake getting into trouble regularly, his mother seems to want him out too.  Trying to avoid making any decisions to Cole's and his mom's demands that he decide whether he is "in or out," Jake sneaks out to a midnight party meeting at St. George subway station, to take the southbound train at midnight.

But missing the train throws Jake into another world, one which first takes him to the past, to meet his father on the day he leaves, then later into the future and finally returning to the present.  This is no tale of Scrooge, with the joys and possibilities of Christmas, seeing his life as it could be.  This is a brief look into a darker world, in which things don't always turn out for the best and you see people as they truly are, not as they show themselves to you.

At one point, when Jake asks himself half-heartedly whether he was experiencing something from The Twilight Zone, he gives voice to the impending terror the reader experiences from the onset of Cohen's fourth novel.  Time-travel novels are ubiquitous but in Mind Gap the travel and the destinations are the stuff of nightmares, where your voice is unheard, your face unrecognizable or invisible, and your influence ignored. 

Cohen leaves no gaps in her story-telling, taking the reader forth on a chilling journey with multiple stops and an unknown destination, leaving no one doubting that there are always consequences to our decisions when asked, "In or out?"

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