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Coady, Lynn. Saints of Big Harbour, a novel.

Houghton Mifflin. 328p. c2002. 0-618-38045-0. $13.00. SA

Set in the fictional town of Big Harbour. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, this novel is a coming-of-age story about Guy Boucher. His mother, Marianne, works as a housekeeper and is well rid of her alcoholic, religious fanatic of a husband. Since the death of his grandfather, Guy, his mother and his sister. Louise, continue to live in the family home along with loud and boorish Uncle Isadore Aucoin, an alcoholic who alternately defends and destroys normal family life. The cultures of the stereotypical, rough-cut native French Canadians and the prejudiced townspeople of Big Harbour clash constantiy, displaying routine abrasiveness and underlying distrust on both sides. Town police harass strangers, like Alison Mason, a draft-dodging teacher from New York and mentor/friend of Guy, as well as foreigners in general and French Canadians in particular. When nasty rumors start that Guy has taken advantage of a cute local flirt, Corinne Fortune, his life becomes a nightmare. Though certainly not "saints" in any traditional religious sense, each character tries to construct and remain faithful to his or her personal moral and ethical system of values.

This is a grim, sometimes brutally realistic story that vividly captures the voices of rural teen culture struggling for space, justice, power, identity, and independence. Guy has a choice. Does he want to remain stuck in the established patterns of his life thus far or does he want to escape by making his own decisions and taking charge of his life? Coady's success lies in her ability to treat a potentially depressing story with both wry humor and irony. The novel will appeal especially to teens whose own experiences provide links to the personalities, situations, and relationships explored. Susan Allison, Libn., Lewiston H.S., Lewiston, ME
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Author:Allison, Susan
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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