Dark End of Dream Street


188 pages
ISBN 0-88780-296-6
DDC jC813'.54





Reviewed by Kelly L. Green

Kelly L. Green is the co-editor of the Children’s Literature edition
of the Canadian Book Review Annual.


Tara lives with her “cool” but inattentive parents in Halifax, where
she is one of the shining academic stars of her high school. She has a
limited number of close friends, including her self-promoting boyfriend,
Ron, and her troubled best friend, Janet, who has become a street kid.
She spends weekends working in a nursing home for the elderly, where she
becomes good friends with 86-year-old Emma, who becomes an anchor in her
life. When Tara and Ron break up, her parents decide to separate, and
Emma dies—all in the same weekend—Tara hits the streets with Janet.

Lesley Choyce has written a compelling and realistic story about a
“normal” teenage girl’s trip to hell and back. The experiences
Tara and Janet live through, including surviving on the streets, an
abusive relationship for Janet, and some experimentation with drugs,
make them re-evaluate their lives and accept responsibility for their
own futures. There are no easy answers here, but everybody (adults
included) is forced to meet challenges.

Marring the book is Choyce’s incorrect use of adjectives in place of
adverbs (“... it would have hurt bad,” “She wanted to talk to
someone real bad,” “Janet was angry, real angry.”) That the author
might be trying to reflect the true vernacular of everyday is not an
acceptable defence for this practice. First, the book is not written in
street vernacular, but in standard English. Second, the above examples
are taken from narrative, not dialogue. If one of the purposes of
literature for young people is to communicate the power of language,
then these examples of poor diction are inexcusable in a young-adult
novel. Story and characterization make this a powerful novel, but
English teachers should be forewarned. Recommended with reservations.


Choyce, Lesley., “Dark End of Dream Street,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/31017.