April 04, 2016

Taking a Chance on Love

by Mary Razzell
Ronsdale Press
156 pp.
Ages 14+
February 2016

Taking a Chance on Love was still to become a jazz standard, having only been released a few years earlier in 1940, but it perfectly exemplies the summer of 1944 for seventeen-year-old Meg when boys and affairs of the heart seem to abound for her and everyone.

Though Meg is still quite innocent and naïve about her feelings towards boys, her best friend, Amy Miller, is anything but.  Amy is well aware of them, easily flirting with the wealthy Robert Pryce whose extramarital activities involve several married women, including Amy’s own mother, and setting her sights on any man who could give her a good life.  Meg notices a lot and sometimes knows enough to be wary but can’t always put the big picture together, unfortunately accused by Amy of being jealous  when she attempts to share those feelings.  With her own mother deeply entrenched in the staunch ideas of what being a woman entails i.e., not continuing one’s education but marrying instead, and her father and older brother Sam away at war, Meg has to navigate these treacherous waters as best she can.

From Doug Thompson, a soldier pen pal, to seventeen-year-old Glen Pryce, wealthy half-brother of Robert Pryce, and 22-year-old Bruce Hanson, the emotionally- and physically-scarred Navy son of her employer at Hanson’s Guest House, Meg has no shortage of young men who can help her learn how to handle how she feels.  Sadly, as with coming-of-age for all of us, Meg endures many sweet and bitter moments as she tries to uncover this.
It made me curious, excited, with strong, unexpected yearnings.  But I also felt uneasy, not really ready to know any more about this new world. (pg. 94)
Taking a Chance on Love may be rich in the landscape of 1940s British Columbia, with the war, TB, medical practices, the expectations for women, and the music and clothes, but it could be any teen girl’s story as she delves into first relationships with boys and tries to find herself while opening herself up to the possibilities of finding someone to love.  With some marriages falling apart and others forged because of war, Taking a Chance on Love takes place in a tenous and strengthening time.  It’s a time that is both sweet and enlightening, temporarilty transporting readers to an era when love wasn’t dependent on social media and digital technology but more on self-discovery and resolve.

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