Published on Monday, Dec. 07, 2009 10:28AM EST Last updated on Monday, Dec. 07, 2009 10:35AM EST
Razor's Edge is fun to read because the teenage boys in it are forced to confront very difficult situations at Blackdown Park, where they own Three Muskateers, a team of Standardbred harness racing horses. The friends have scraped some money together and organized their time efficiently enough to have their own little racing business, and to go to school. Their days start before sunrise at the stables and end well after sunset: There is no end to the tasks associated with trying to realize their dream.
But that dream gets derailed when it is clear someone is stealing precious things from the stables, the horses don't perform as well as the boys hope, they're not making any money and narrator Travis finds that making out with Sassy feels better than hanging out with his best friends/business partners.
Add a serious bout of racism as Jasper, the one partner who is First Nations, gets accused of being a thief, plus fist fights between best friends, domestic violence and alcoholism, and you have the lives of way too many kids.
Author Nikki Tate writes a flawless teenage tale. There is no black, no white; just, as is the case in life, only shades of confusing and complicated grey wound around hearts and hormones.
“Sassy's breath is warm and soft on my neck. She presses a gentle kiss against my throat and then another a little higher up. Her fingertips brush the bruises on my cheeks so softly I barely feel her touch. Another kiss and then another and then her lips find mine. By the time I finally pull free my truck windows are completely fogged up.”
Remind you of anyone? What teenager won't have to confront a broken heart and a dream changed to nightmare because of poverty and domestic violence? How timely this novel is as the latest report from Campaign 2000 tells us one in 10 children in Canada lives below the poverty line.
Even though Tate gathers up the loose ends in the final chapter, we see that some characters will understand life in a deeper and more meaningful way while others will become the collateral damage. Tate offers hope and sadness, not as a solution but as reality.