Monday, August 8, 2011
Blink & Caution, written by Tim Wynne-Jones. Candlewick, Random House. 2011. $19.00 ages 14 and up
"By the time you've waded to shore dragging that fool boat behind you, you're about as tired as a human can be. It's a deep tired, deeper than your bones. It's a give-up kind of tired. The Captain must have drowned out there in the bay, because you don't feel him inside you anymore. There is no alarm left in you, Blink. The battery ran out."
There are two unique and impressive voices that drive this book through to the end. Blink's voice is in second person, and it is such a surprise that it throws the reader off balance for a few short minutes. That imbalance does not last, as Blink is a street kid with a compelling voice in his own head. That voice is what drives him to survive even though it is a tremendously difficult task for the most part. Blink (Brent Conroy) has reasons for being where he is when we meet him. He is damaged by the abuse that his stepfather has shown and the seeming indifference of his powerless mother.
As he uses the quiet hallways in Toronto's Plaza Regent hotel to provide food for his malnourished body, he becomes an inadvertent witness to the reported kidnapping of a man named Jack Niven. He sees what happens, finds Niven's wallet and cell phone...and a picture of his beautiful daughter. When he hears a message left by her, he makes contact. All he wants to do is let her know her father is all right. He takes the money that is in the wallet. His guilt leads him to believe that he will be found out, and taken in:
"Breakfast at last, you think, but your eyes suddenly water and squeeze shut, as if someone turned a searchlight on you. You shield your face."
Just as suddenly as we met Blink, we now meet Caution. Her name is Kitty Pettigrew and she is a teen dream partner to Merlin, her drug-dealing, abusive boyfriend. What path is she on? As the story deepens we begin to understand, and so does Caution, what led her to such an alliance. Her path to living on the street began with the accidental death of her brother, and the part she played in it.
They meet in the bus station, on their way to Kingston. Blink is going there to meet Niven's daughter. Caution is on the run from Merlin and his lackeys. They have both managed to evoke revenge on those who hurt them the most. Now, they might be able to forge a new path for themselves...together. They work to solve the puzzle that is Jack Niven. In doing so, they become embroiled in a business venture gone bad. But, they have each other's back, manage to outsmart the men, and escape. In a hopeful ending, we find them back among loved ones, tentatively searching for a promising future...again, together.
Using second and third person voice to give depth and drama to the reading, the author has created a much-appreciated story about two teens whose lives collide. There is mystery and adventure, suspense and danger, and two characters you cannot help but love and admire. Tim Wynne-Jones knows how to write a page-turning, on-the-edge-of-your-seat tale that will appeal to boys and girls. And to older women, too! I highly recommend it to you!