FICTION

Baygirl

275p. Orca. 2013. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781459802742. LC 2013935299.
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Gr 8 Up—Teen Kit Ryan learns about love and loss in this luminous young adult novel set in 1990s Newfoundland. The Canadian government has begun shutting down the cod fishing industry in order to decrease overfishing and save the country's natural resources. This decree throws a hurdle into Kit's world and her already strained relationship with her parents. The girl's alcoholic father is a cod fisherman newly out of work, and her mother struggles to make ends meet while enabling her husband's violent outbursts, leaving no room for mother-daughter bonding. The family uproots from Parsons Bay, a small fishing village, to St. John's, a city, leaving Kit's Nan and best friend behind. They move in with Uncle Iggy, a lonely, depressed, but recovering alcoholic who is still mourning the loss of his wife. Kit does not make friends easily at her new school, branded an outsider for her "baygirl" accent and unfashionable clothes. A friendship with an eccentric neighbor, Mr. Adams, and writing in her journal help her adjust to life in St. John's. When she finally begins to find her place in the new locale and even entrusts her heart to a popular boy, she is called back to her hometown to help her ailing Nan and forlorn father. Teens will connect with Smith's well-crafted characters, including the fully-formed protagonist. The tragic ending will resonate with readers, and they will root for Kit as she emerges from the other side.—Lisa Gieskes, Richland County Public Library, Columbia, SC

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