by Dede Crane
Groundwood Books, 2009
ISBN 978-0-88899-855-2 (hc)
ISBN 978-0-88899-861-3 (pb)
$18.95 (hc)/$12.95 (pb), 216 pp, hardcover, ages 14 – 18
Poster Boy is a contemporary story dealing with one of the dilemmas of modern life—how to maintain a balance between functioning in our society in a normal way, and staying healthy. It is told in the first person with great authenticity by the main character, a 16-year-old boy. Gray enjoys a privileged life within a happy family, possessing many of the “toys” that today’s teens aspire to having. And then his younger sister is diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of cancer. In reaction, Gray researches the causes of cancer, hoping that if they remove carcinogens from Maggie’s environment, she will have a better chance of getting well. He is horrified to find so many dangerous substances everywhere, and begins to purge his home and his life, going so far as to quit school and his job at a cinema, and moving out of his home to live and work on an organic farm. His stance wins him notoriety, but nothing he does can save his sister’s life, and eventually he returns home to spend time with her, and he is there when she dies. This is a sad story, but Maggie’s death is described with great sensitivity and there is hope for the reconciliation of a family torn apart by cancer. No clear-cut solution to the dilemma is offered by the author, however, since withdrawing from society is not a practical or attractive option for most. Hopefully, Gray’s research will educate some readers about the ubiquitous health hazards that we accept without question, and help them to make more enlightened choices.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s November 2009 issue.