Letting Go


148 pages
ISBN 0-590-74047-4
DDC jC813'.54





Reviewed by Joan Weller

Joan Weller is Head Librarian at the West Branch of the Ottawa Public


This novel for young teenagers has many themes: the death of a
grandparent, a teenager’s personal development, family relationships,
friendship, environmental change. Herein lies its weakness—a lack of

When Sara Jane, the feisty 13-year-old heroine, spends the summer of
1956 at her grandmother’s cottage on Centre Island, she becomes caught
up in local anxiety over a City of Toronto proposal to clear the way for
parkland by demolishing homes. Based on historical fact, this aspect of
the book is realistically handled, but better developed is Sara Jane’s
relationship with her beloved and dying grandmother—the kind of
positive, affectionate relationship the girl does not have with her

The author’s attempts at creating a 1950s atmosphere are expressed
more through names (Eaton’s Annex, the Georgian Room, the CNE) than
through detailed pictures of the era. Occasionally, shifts in setting,
from the sunlit island to the city, interrupt the flow of events and
leave the reader longing for the idyllic island stage.

In the closing pages, the book’s various themes are addressed, but
the author fails to convey which theme has been paramount to Sara
Jane’s personal development. Again, the book succeeds best in its
portrayal of the bonding that occurs between Sara Jane and her
grandmother as they bridge the generation gap. Recommended with


Woodbury, Mary., “Letting Go,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/24734.