Monday, November 8, 2010

Blink and Caution, by Tim Wynne-Jones: Canada - Land of Adventure, eh?

Blink and Caution,  
by Tim Wynne-Jones
Candlewick Press ARC - Publication date March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3983-9

Blink and Caution are two invisible Canadian runaways living rough in Toronto. Blink, actually homeless, has run from his abusive family and finds himself living day to day, surviving by playing The Breakfast Game, or sneaking into hotels to eat leftover room service. A fateful round of the Breakfast Game game leads Blink to witness what appears to be a crime, and leaves him chasing lose ends and a photo of the alleged victims daughter. Caution has been living running from her own demons and living with a drug dealing older boyfriend. She realizes he's cheating and makes off with his stash of money. Both on the run, the two meet when one robs the other but has a change of heart. It's not long before these two are reliant upon each other when they find themselves in cottage country Canada in this fast paced, high stakes adventure. Tim Wynne-Jones makes us feel their pain, shame, and pride in being strong enough to run away, but shows us they need to be lost to help each other find themselves. This Canadian thriller has a surprising ending, and is best for teens aged 13 and up for mild sexual references, business lingo, and some philosophical soul-searching.

While I enjoyed reading this book, I thought it would be a lot crazier in the action/adventure department so I'm in turn pleased but not extraordinarily enthused. Except about the Canada parts...which I will get to. I think it's because the stakes seem high until they are laid out and because SPOILER ALERT: nobody gets hurt at all. It's more a story of kids with nothing and nothing to lose finding themselves; like I said in the review proper, these lost kids needed to lose themselves to find themselves and recover from their respective pasts.
I personally enjoyed the Canadian scenery; as an alumni of a certain university in Kingston, Ontario, I spent a goodly portion of the first half of the book eagerly awaiting their arrival. Having lived there in fall and winter, I assure you that when Tim Wynne-Jones describes the desolate color of the sky ("The sky over Kingston looks like someone stuck a giant syringe into it and sucked out all the color," p 181), he is not exaggerating. Nor is he exaggerating when he describes the location of the Sleepless Goat and the Army Navy Surplus! It was like strolling down memory lane. Snaps for your invocation of vivid walks down Princess, Senior Wynne-Jones! You saved me a seven hour car ride and a trip through customs!

All in all, this is a fun book and while it may not be for everyone (judging from the somewhat anticlimcatic yet satisfying climax), it would be best for the 7th-9th grade crew (some mild sexuality and the need to understand why someone would choose to be lost required), and may be sellable to the type who only reads thrillers.

Book Talk Hook: Read the passage about Blink sneaking up to the lodge at the tail end of Chapter 29 - cliffhanger!

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