Posted on August 2nd, 2013 by pajamapress
“Maclean’s novel in verse has a hypnotic rhythm that pulls readers into the mind of 15-year-old Nix. Formerly known as “Fatty Humbolt,” he is struggling with his crush on Loren Cody, the girlfriend of the best player on the hockey team, and his love-hate relationship with his older sister, Roxy. With her “Vampire Red” hair, endless stream of boyfriends, and rebellious energy, Roxy is the polar opposite of Nix, who likes to fade into the background and thinks it’s hard to talk to anyone, let alone members of the opposite sex. Nix finds solace and self-expression in his woodworking. Then Roxy falls for Bryan Sykes, a popular but notorious cad and politician’s son, and Nix is forced to come out of his shell and find his voice. The poems successfully capture the cadences of modern teenage speech and behavior in unadorned language. The sparse verse also provides the perfect narrative voice to express Nix’s taciturn strength. Readers used to a diet of cliché-ridden YA fiction will enjoy this refreshing take on the teenage plight, and, although the ending is particularly painful and poignant, the hard-won hopefulness of Nix’s growth will linger with them long after the poetry ends.”
Posted on April 1st, 2013 by pajamapress
“Poetry, at its best, has the power to evoke a maximum of emotion with a minimum number of words. As such, it’s a fitting tool for an author whose novel revolves around a teenage boy best described as tongue-tied and introverted — and whose life goes into overdrive when the usual changes that accompany puberty are added to those of a family with its share of secrets.
Nova Scotia’s Jill MacLean has set her most recent novel in Bullbirds Cove, a small town in Newfoundland that used to be home to 37 families but where, now that “the codfish are gone from the sea (and) groundfishing closed years ago,” only 23 families remain — including the Humboldt family. Fifteen-year-old Nixon (better known as Nix) and his 16-year-old sister, Roxy, are part of that family. In telling their story, MacLean uses free verse — which might sound off-putting to some, but actually turns out to be a great way to put into words what Nix thinks and has trouble saying. It also makes for a well-paced story that will leave readers thoroughly engaged with the characters, and probably reaching for a tissue or two before getting to the final page.”
Posted on February 19th, 2013 by pajamapress
“…In an interview Jill Maclean she said she writes character driven books. She hit the nail on the head with that statement, given the memorable characters she creates here…Nix, Roxy, Bryan, Twig, Chase, Loren and Blue, and Nix’s parents. Set in Newfoundland, this is his story about family, conflict, friendship, death, secrets, a dog and a budding romance. The characters who people the pages are expertly drawn: flawed, remarkable, and redemptive for the most part.
I love them for many reasons…their vulnerability, their strength, their unparalleled concern for others. Well, not Bryan…not at all, but there has to be a villain; or the men who own Twig and treat her so abominably. Sorrow, and an inability to deal with it, tears at the Humboldt family which is stoic, secretive, and who all have reasons for doing what they do…”
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Posted on February 7th, 2013 by pajamapress
“Another powerful novel by the author of The Nine Lives of Travis Keating, Home Truths and The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy. Jill Maclean’s new novel is written in verse, and like her other novels, deals with some heavy issues. I couldn’t put this book down, and I read it in one night. Nix, the main character, was an easy person to relate to. I found myself frustrated with him, and at the same time I could totally understand his worry, and his reluctance in challenging his older sister. It’s common for siblings to cover for each other, when one of them is breaking the rules. But that doesn’t mean the other person doesn’t worry. And as long as no one gets hurt, these secrets can remain a secret. But unfortunately, that’s not what happens for Nix and his sister…
…I loved the point of view. I loved the characters. I loved this book.”
Click here to read the full review.—Maria Martella