Monday 3 January 2011

My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath

Published by Groundwood Books

Jane is a pretty typical twelve year old. Rather than spend her days helping to care for her younger siblings and maintain the family home by the beach, she longs to feel the rush that comes with venturing into the unknown. Is it really too much to ask for - just a little adventure?

Pretty soon, Jane finds herself in the thick of it. A psychic - and if you ask me, a little pyscho! - preacher with a fondness for fortune tellers, a solo hot air balloon ride, and an accidental crime involving a baby and a bible are just a sample of the upcoming chaos that is heading her way. Mix in a case of blackmail and a steady stream of strange men, any of whom could be her father, and it's little wonder that she finds herself wondering if she will ever have a quiet life again.

I loved this book on so many levels. The author has such a beautifully descriptive style of writing which can be evidenced by simply reading the back of the book...

YOU CAN HEAR THE WAVES CRASH more loudly when it is dark. You can smell the sharper smells of the sea. Maybe the wind will take us this time, I think, as a gust shakes the foundations of the house. Maybe we will be blown apart to the many corners of the earth, but then I feel a sharp stab of something, excitement maybe. It is the prospect of adventures to be had.
Often when I am reading, I find myself invested in one or more of the characters, but it's not often that I find myself invested in all of them. This reading experience is different. I found myself bonding with each and every person, from the nicest and most mysterious, all the way through to the most terrible and most irresponsible. You know you are hooked when a character's actions cause you to want to reach into the pages and shake them.

I think what struck me most with this book, is how the author manages to weave together a story in such an unusual (to me at least) combination. Wild and whimsical was my original thought on this book as I began to read, but as the book became more peppered with a darkness, characters making choices that come at the expense of a childhood innocence.. it took on a depth that I hadn't expected and I was wonderfully surprised. What I had assumed would be a speedy and carefree read, became a gripping read that really captures the very essence of adventure. A fantastic book for Grade 7 and upwards.

I am also thrilled to see that there is a sequel, following Jane and her family as they head to Canada for even more adventures. Look for a review of Northward to the Moon shortly!

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