James Heneghan and Norma Charles
Orca Book Publishers, 2009
$9.95, 165 pp, ages 13-15
Four foster children live happily in the home of Janice and Joseph Hardy. Nell Ford and Tom Okada are thirteen, Billy Galloway is fourteen and Lisa Connors is nine. The story centres around the oldest three children who try to come up with a plan for some urgently needed cash. Social Services have given the Hardys six months to complete very expensive renovations to their home, or two of the children will have to leave. The children feel they are a real family and will do whatever it takes to keep them all together. Nell comes up with the idea that the three oldest are the Three Musketeers who will fight to save the Hardys and Lisa. They will be “all for one and one for all.” Billy comes up with the idea on just how they can do that—rob banks! Tom is not convinced this is a good idea, and it unnerves Nell every time they commit a robbery. Just how long can they do this? And what will Janice and Joseph Hardy do if they find out what is going on?
This novel reveals much about foster homes—the good ones and the bad ones. A judge wonders why foster homes with excellent reputations do not receive more financial support. The reader is also exposed to Vancouver’s downtown eastside, “where the drunks and the drug addicts and the homeless people hung out,” as Nell and Tom help Billy to cope with his dying, alcoholic father. Despite the children’s good intentions, they learn that crime does not pay and that it can really hurt the ones you love. But they also learn that trust, honesty and real, unconditional love will keep a family together no matter what happens.
James Heneghan has won several book awards. His YA historical novel Wish Me Luck was nominated for a Governor General’s Award. Norma Charles was winner of the Chocolate Lily Award in 2005, and has been short listed for the Sheila A. Egoff Award. A story in a Vancouver newspaper about three teenagers robbing banks prompted the writing of this novel.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s March 2010 issue.