July 06, 2014

Depth of Field: A Pippa Greene Novel

by Chantel Guertin
ECW Press
208 pp.
Ages 13+
For release August, 2014
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy

Sixteen-year-old Pippa Greene, introduced in Chantel Guertin's The Rule of Thirds (ECW Press, 2013), is off to New York City to attend the two-week Tisch photography camp, along with Ben Baxter, the guy at school whose deplorable actions almost cost her that opportunity.  And, though she's upset to be leaving her new boyfriend, Dylan, and agreeing to refrain from communicating with him by text, email or phone (apparently to make their reunion all the sweeter), Pippa is determined to take all she can from this learning experience.

Pippa becomes fast friends with her roommate, Ramona Haverland, which is helpful for assignment work since Pippa is very unfamiliar with NYC.  Unfortunately, she and Ramona find that working with Ben Baxter, whom Pippa has relegated to "Dead to Me" status, occasionally is helpful. And as awkward as their occasional encounters are, Pippa is beginning to understand his motivation for what he did to her, and even suggest ways to help him resolve his own father issues.

Pippa's own father issue stems from the amazing bond she had with her dad when he was alive and now following in his photographic footsteps.  Fortunately she has the opportunity to work with  famous photographer David Westerly, who was also her father's best friend in college.  With David as a mentor and a valuable source of information, Pippa decides the theme for her first week's assignment will be her father: what he liked to do in New York City; where he liked to go; how her dad and mom met; etc.  Surprisingly, Pippa's mom is less than enthusiastic about Pippa working with David, as is her Aunt Emmy who lives in Pippa's dad's old apartment.

While David can be a self-absorbed jerk, he does present Pippa with a host of opportunities to develop her photographic skills and creativity, as well as learn more about her dad and ultimately herself.

Chantel Guertin throws a number of twists into Depth of Field that readers couldn't possible predict, which is as it should be.  If everything was obvious and laid out in front for the reader, it would surely be a dull read.  Just like Pippa who seems to be observant enough to be a good photographer, the reader must look a little deeper, question a little more and not take everything as it is presented.  It's amazing what you can see when you look a little deeper.  The big revelations may not be climactic–after all, they've been there all along–but their effects may well be.  And yet Chantel Guertin still manages to keep the text light-hearted and hopeful, never wallowing in family issues.

I had no idea that Pippa Greene would be coming back for another adventure after The Rule of Thirds, but I am delighted by Depth of Field in its furthering of Pippa's story and look forward to Book 3.  Here is my plea to Chantel Guertin: "There must be a next book!  How else will we know how Pippa's latest choices play out?  And you know which specific one I'm talking about, right?"  Happily, readers, you'll need to find out for yourselves.

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