The story of Sonja and Carl is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. It begins in their senior year of high school, and the evolution of their connection through the following years. Set in a small town in Northern Ontario, the story centres on Carl’s hockey skills and Sonja’s intellect: two opposites and the physical and emotional forces that bring them together and pull their lives apart. The piecing together of their connection was sweet and intriguing, and quickly tragic. I felt so much empathy for both Sonja and Carl, and I didn’t want them to suffer.
Admittedly, I do not usually read young adult fiction. As such, when I first received this novel, I was concerned. I worried I might not find the story stimulating because, in the spirit of transparency, it’s been many years since I myself was a young adult. However, I found it easy to attach to the characters and develop and understanding of their actions and a strong hope for their future.
I reduced my rating by a half point because I felt that, while the author did a fantastic job at detailing the experiences of Sonja and Carl so that the reader is fully compelled to these characters, I found that maybe Sonja – being the intellect she is – could have been written to be just slightly less naïve.
This is Suzanne Hillier’s first novel, and I look forward to reading her future works.
Review by Janice Carkner