Kate Franklin’s life changes for the better when her dad lands a job at Beacon Prep, an elite private school with one of the best basketball teams in the state. She begins to date a player on the team and quickly gets caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, learning that there are perks to being an athlete.
But those perks also come with a price. Another player takes his power too far and Kate is assaulted at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The world that Kate was once welcomed into is now her worst enemy, and she must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes.
Written through a mixture of prose and verse, this novel is unlike any I’ve ever read before. One aspect that really set it apart from others I’ve read is the online journal that begins every chapter. Kate is a blogger, albeit a private blogger, and she records her thoughts and feelings on the site www.allmytruths.com (seriously, go look at it!) from the very beginning, before she ever begins her year at Beacon. Each new entry has a “Today’s Truth” statement that sets the stage for the blog entry and the chapter, and I really enjoyed this, although I didn’t realize just how important these journal entries were until it really came down to it all.
The novel begins in August and ends in January, opening and closing with Kate’s initial and final words on the blog, and I found this extremely interesting and well-rounding, a great final touch for closure. This is also the portion of the novel that is written in both prose and verse, and while I’m not necessarily a verse guru (I shy away from verse as much as possible in my every day life), it was awesome to see Kate’s thoughts and feelings thrown on the page in such an unconventional way. It’s completely different and extremely powerful.
Alpine’s novel follows Kate as she moves to Beacon and finds instant popularity, something she’s never had before and, as we all know, popularity makes people do crazy things. Over the course of the story, Kate changes, as her brother Brett points out, and it’s not for the better. But what I really enjoyed was that, though blinded by her need to fit in and feel loved, she didn’t forget her family, and when her “friends” said rude and nasty things about her brother and his girlfriend, Kate stuck up for them. Now, while it’s true that that’s about all she did, it still shows that she hasn’t lost all her humanity trying to fit in with others. Though the newest addition to the popular group, she told them how she felt and had no qualms standing up and walking away when the comments became increasingly rude concerning those not in the “popular crowd,” and I loved watching this strong will of hers because it foreshadows her will power that we’ll see later on in the novel.
Now, I know the synopsis says it, but I feel the need to point it out again: there is an assault, an attempted rape, in this novel. The good news is that it’s late in the novel, it’s not graphic, and Kate is able to fend off her attacker. The bad news is that any type of assault leaves the victim wounded internally, regardless of physical pain. Now, the reason I wanted to draw potential reader attention to this is I tend to shy away from novels where I know that rape or sexual abuse will be portrayed, but I’m glad I didn’t with this novel, and I suggest you don’t let that stop you from picking it up, either. It’s a powerful story, and although Kate loses everything–her friends, popularity, even her father’s protection–she remains strong and ultimately must make a choice: to protect her father’s job and the basketball team who will probably continue to attempt and succeed in harming women, or to tell the truth, face the taunts of the school, and stand for what is right. It’s powerful; a great story that I highly recommend. Four stars.
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Canary releases on August 1, 2013.