In The Woods
by Robin Stevenson
Orca Book Publishers, 2009
$9.95, 124 pp, ages 12 – 14
Inside his tightly zipped jacket, the baby is held close to his chest by a sling made from his sweater. “Don’t you dare die…If you die I’ll be emotionally scarred for life,” Cameron tells the tiny bundle while he pedals his bike as fast as he can through the woods to the highway. With the help of a passing motorist they reach the hospital and the baby girl is saved but Cameron is freaked out by the whole experience. Who would leave a baby in the woods? That is what the social worker and the police want to know. They also wonder if Cameron is the father. Does he know the mother? It’s no to both questions and Cameron is determined to find the mother. He believes his twin sister, Katie, knows. It was she who had called and pleaded with him to go to the woods. Perhaps it is one of the girls in their class at high school? Once Cameron discovers the mother’s identity he faces a real dilemma. Does he protect a teenager’s secret like he promised or does he go to the police? Cameron confides in Audrey, a friend from school who helps him to understand the issue of teen pregnancy from the side of an adopted child. Life has suddenly handed Cameron many things that require him to make some very important decisions. Fate intervenes and leaves him no choice about what he must do.
The plot moves along fairly quickly, and the characters are well-developed, especially Cameron. I could hear his voice and was with him every step of the way. The ending of the novel is particularly moving and not, perhaps, what one might expect. The issue of teen pregnancy is dealt with frankly, but without judgement, and with compassion.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s May 2010 issue.