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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Drinkwater by Eric Hopkins

Drinkwater - Eric Hopkins


From the cover: Drinkwater was originally an English word given to someone who abstains from drinking alcohol. As a family name it represents sobriety, dignity and self-control.

Nineteen-year old Amber Drinkwater knows that when life presents hardships, a responsible person meets them fairly, with a clear head and the willingness to work. Her plans to start a new life in Toronto with her brother Guy are interrupted when their uncle fails to meet them at the train station, but she resolves to abide until he turn up - and when it seems their caretaker is gone for good, she accepts it as an unexpected but timely call to independence and adult responsibility, inspite of her dearth of money or friends in the city.

The sprawling city of Toronto represents a shining opportunity for Amber to prove herself through an old code of grim endurance and bold resignation, but she will find her simple work ethic is no match for its modern towers, dark streets and disjointed neighbourhoods. Drinkwater is a provocative story that blurs the borders between teenage empowerment and helplessness, between experience and naivety, and between optimism and blind hope.

I am not sure that this is a good summation of this book - when I read this, I pictured a young girl, though facing what seems to be insurmountable odds, valiantly strives forward to success, however small. Maybe this was just the optimistic/romantic in me. This was not this book.

Amber and her brother, Guy(just a teenager), arrive in Toronto expecting their uncle Ian to meet their train - then they would begin their life there - Amber by transferring to the college in Toronto, and Guy by finishing high school. Never quite sure what happened to the parents, but the way things are phrased you get the idea that they have died. (So in all respect, maybe the point of this book was that these two were in shock over the death of their parents). The two kids never really do discuss their parents. What follows is about a week in the life of Amber as she proceeds to try to find them a place to stay, first until their uncle gets back - and when she realizes that isn't going to happen, a permanent place to stay. She also tries to get a job and get her brother enrolled in the local high school.

She bums lodging off of a tour guide (Carrie)she had meet the spring before, and when she wears out the welcome in her dorm, she stays with Carrie's boyfriend. She gets two jobs, one for which she never shows up for, and the other one at Tim Horton's (coffee shop) for which she is late, but does manage to work a few night shifts.

The book was somewhat disjointed - didn't really always follow where the characters were supposed to be. The kids do get separated and we learn very little about where or what happens to Guy after that. I didn't like the story and didn't like the ending - but it has stayed with me which I guess, in itself, says something. It does a good job of depicting how tough it is to get a start in life - especially as a young adult - if you do not have any sort of a plan or savings or just help in general. I am sure not everyone would feel the way that I do about this book. I want my reading to be all about what is good and right in the world so this always plays into my feelings. I would give this a 3/5 stars.

Publisher: Crackjaw Publishing http://www.crackjawpublishing.com/

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