Munro vs. the Coyote
by Darren Groth
Orca Book Publishers, 2017
ISBN 978-1-45981-409-7 (hc)
$19.95, 288 pp, ages 12+
When Munro Maddux’s younger sister, Evie, died due to a problem with her Down syndrome, he is sent spiralling into a world full of grief and depression. Unable to cope with his sister’s death any longer, Munro decides to join a six-month student exchange program to Australia. Brisbane, Australia, may be quite far from Vancouver, Canada, but Munro still finds himself having to cope with Evie’s death. He struggles at his new school—with making friends and academics—and at his home away from home by not opening up to his host family. Everything in Australia is as difficult for him as it was back home, that is until he is sent to the Fair Go Community Village for volunteer work. When Munro realizes that Fair Go Community Village is an assisted living facility for people with physical and mental handicaps, he is uncertain if he wants to go, fearing it may make coping more difficult. However, when Munro arrives at Fair Go he realizes all of his depression and grief have lifted. Fair Go becomes his happy place and Munro spends as much time as possible at the community, even though it affects his schooling. Due to his bad grades, the exchange program threatens to send Munro back to Canada. Afraid that he will lose his newfound happy place, Munro decides to run away to Fair Go and stay as a live-in caregiver. This does not go over well with his parents or the exchange program.
My favourite part of the story was when Munro first arrived at Fair Go and had to go through the voting process to see if he would be a suitable caregiver. The voting process involved all of his potential wards asking him a question and at the end they voted based on his responses. Munro was not expecting to get everyone to vote him in after struggling to answer a tough question from a resident, Flo. Flo asked if Munro had ever hurt his sister, which he responded to by saying he did not have a sister. It is kind of a bittersweet moment because Munro had to discuss something that brought him sadness to get into a place that would soon bring him joy.
I would recommend this book to people who are interested in Australian life and culture because the book describes the country quite well. People dealing with or knowing someone with a challenge may also enjoy this book, as they would be able to make some strong connections to the characters.
Review by Connor, age 15, grade 11.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Spring 2019 issue.