June 01, 2016


by Lisa Moore
Groundwood Books
268 pp.
Ages 13+
May 2016
Reviewed from advance reading copy

Oh, Flannery Malone. Flannery, Flannery, Flannery.  You are one of a kind. From your conceptual-artist, parenting-blogger mother, to the father you’ve never met, cherubic-x-devilish half-brother Felix and poor but rich life in St. John’s, Newfoundland, I’m, as they say, delighted to meet you but wouldn’t want to be you.  Actually, for that matter, I wouldn’t want to be a sixteen-year-old girl again and maybe that’s what I don’t envy about you, but you are unstoppable–in a good way– and a delight and your readers should be grateful to Lisa Moore for introducing you to us.

Boys are becoming an issue for Flannery.  Well, one boy in particular: Tyrone O’Rourke.  Though they’d been the closest of friends as kids before he’d moved away when his mom married his step-dad Marty, Tyrone has morphed into a graffiti artist known as SprayPig, sought by the cops, and rarely attends high school.  Regardless, Flannery sees the whole package that is Tyrone, past and present, and she is seriously in love. When she is partnered with Tyrone for their Entrepreneurship class project, he suggests they make potions, just like they pretended to make as kids, marketing them as magic.  But, except for this suggestion, Tyrone is awol for all work on the project, and Flannery ends up conceiving, creating and packaging the four different love potions herself.

But while she is navigating her working and crushing relationship with Tyrone, Flannery’s best friend Amber seems to be steering herself away from Flannery and her competitive swimming and into an all-consuming first relationship with Gary Bowen, a classmate and lead singer of a band whose music video will be the source of their own Entrepreneurship project.  Though Amber is becoming brutally opinionated about Tyrone, Flannery tries to diplomatically warn her friend of Gary’s dark side.  But between first loves and parents as well as the trials of high school society, Flannery and Amber and Tyrone would seem to be going against the current and where they end up may not be up to them.
So love is work and it’s always changing and it’s making and noticing and needing and giving and definite.  It’s definite.” (pg. 113)
Lisa Moore gets into the head and heart of a sixteen-year-old so effortlessly that it’s surprising that this is her first book of young adult fiction.  Of course, from her award-winning adult fiction–Caught (House of Anansi, 2013), February (House of Anansi, 2009) and Alligator (House of Anansi,  2005)–we know Lisa Moore flawlessly tackles issues of youth and relationships and recklessness head on, never wavering from the task of telling the story no matter how fragile the characters or precarious their situations. And her insight into the tenuous nature of…everything, is evident in Flannery’s outlook and beliefs.
"I had understood about evil. I had seen how it was ordinary and stupid and there was nothing magical or fairytale-like about it.
      It was just a grown-up taking his problems out on a kid. Because he could. Because nobody stopped him.
” (pg. 103)
While Lisa Moore doesn’t make everything right by Flannery’s conclusion, she does create closure for most story lines and even a bit of hope–in a kiss– which, just as in life, is sometimes all you can expect.
"Not believing in something requires a lot of effort.  It is easier to believe.  Once I have accepted that something is true, I have a hard time losing faith in it." (pg. 104)

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I'm thrilled to announce that author Lisa Moore has graciously agreed to read at the Young Adult venue of this year's Eden Mills Writers' Festival on September 18, 2016.  Other YA authors attending include R. J. Anderson, Lena CoakleyDouglas DaveyE. K. Johnston, Sylvia McNicoll, Liane Shaw and Amanda West Lewis, Check back to CanLit for LittleCanadians for a full list of guest authors in the YA and children's venues and for more details.

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