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Bookends: Family Tragedies Are Blurred by False Assumptions October 24, 2012

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: Family Tragedies Are Blurred by False Assumptions

By Dan Davidson

July 18, 2012, Star July 20/12

– 725 words –



By Norah McClintock

Orca Book Publishers

219 pages



A decade ago a young boy named Finn Newsome came home after spending an evening with his father at his nightclub to find his mother dead, apparently the victim of a Robbery gone bad. She was killed by a man named Louis Ouimette.

As this story opens, Finn looks out his bedroom window to see his dad struggling with an armed man. The gun goes off, killing Finn’s stepmother (who he has never liked) and then goes off again, killing the stranger, who turns out to be the same Louis Ouimette.

In another part of town Lila wonders where her father is. She has just moved into this apartment with him after 10 years of separation while he served time for a murder he has always sworn to her he did not commit. She has been raised by her aunt, who had nothing good to say about him, but she has always believed in his innocence. She is just beginning to think he may have fallen off the wagon again (he is a recovering alcoholic) when there is a knock at the door. Two police officers ask if she is Lila Ouimette and inform her that her father has just been shot after killing a woman named Tracie Newsome.

I’ve begun this review in the way that the author has written it, alternating chapters narrated by Finn and Lila, except that they are first person narrators. McClintock has managed to up with two distinctive voices for these young people, but the chapters are named so that you won’t ever get lost.

There’s quite a bit of back-story to be provided and all of this comes along quite naturally as the two of them reflect on what has happened to them and their parents. The action of the story itself only covers a few days, and is quite intense.

The pair meet by accident at the police station while dealing with the deaths in their families, neither having a clue who the other is. Lila is the first to catch on, and shows up at Tracie’s interment in an attempt to learn more about the family that is so tragically linked to hers. She is also the one who does most of the factual digging at the local library to provide the hard evidence we need to figure out what’s going on.

Finn, still in the dark as to who she is, is attracted to her, and feels that they have something in common. He finds out where she lives and goes to visit her, which is when she inadvertently plants the first seeds of doubt in his mind about what actually happened when he was younger.

Both young people pursue independent lines of inquiry after that; neither realizing what long buried cans if worms they are digging up. Lila uncovers some facts about her father that totally invalidate the premise behind his original conviction. Finn comes to understand that the loving family home of his youth was not actually quite what he has always recalled it to be.

When they meet again Finn learns who Lila is. In spite of his anger and suspicion they end up comparing notes. It takes a couple of meetings before Finn is willing to accept her conviction that her father might not have committed the original murder. He has always accepted the official version of events, while she has not.

The second murder prompts her to do a ton of research into the case, something he had always found it too painful to do. In fairness to Finn, she’s had decade of refusing to accept the official story, and he hasn’t. She’s ready to pounce on the inconsistencies and he isn’t, but he does get there.

Neither one of them is prepared for the way events surge to a dramatic conclusion as the official truth unravels and real killer becomes desperate.

This is a tidy little mystery. Written for young adults, it’s not at all condescending in tone and quite satisfactory for older readers. McClintock’s books have been in good rotation at our public library in Dawson. I picked this one up when she was a mentor author at April’s Young Authors’ Conference.








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