The Hemingway Tradition


92 pages
ISBN 1-55143-242-0
DDC jC813'.54




Reviewed by Deborah Dowson

Deborah Dowson is a Canadian children’s librarian living in Powell,


Suicide is on Shaw’s mind as he drives with his mom from Vancouver to
Winnipeg. It isn’t his own death that he is contemplating, but the
terrible memory of his father’s recent suicide that is haunting him. A
new start in a new city doesn’t erase that memory, but in creating a
new life, Shaw gains the courage to go beyond the horrible image of his
father’s death, so that he is able to embrace the positive memories of
his father’s life. In the process he is also able to validate himself,
and his father’s love for him.

This is a marvelous novel for reluctant teen readers. The book
exemplifies the best qualities of a high-interest, low-readability
story. The author draws on such potent subjects as suicide, prejudice,
homosexuality, creativity, friendship, and recovery to create a forceful
and relevant narrative. The narrator is compelling, with his honest
expressions of toughness and tenderness. The plot is fast-paced, the
style is terse, the vocabulary is simple and powerful, and the use of
dialogue is strong. The elements of Papa Hemingway’s style combine
with the subject to add a wonderful literary dimension to the work. The
paperback format with its contemporary cover is completely appropriate
for the teen audience. This novel is an exceptionally good choice for
both male and female reluctant readers. Highly recommended.


Butcher, Kristin., “The Hemingway Tradition,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024,