by Daphne Greer
Nimbus Publishing, 2023
ISBN 978-1-77471-152-1 (sc)
$14.95, 232 pp, ages 8 – 12
Daphne Greer has written a sequel to her 2016 novel Jacob’s Landing, which is also set in her hometown of Newport Landing, Nova Scotia. The thirteen-year-old protagonist has recently lost his father and has moved in with a somewhat eccentric set of grandparents far from his Ontario home. While about to be adopted by Maggie, a family friend, Jacob is approached by Jade, his free-spirited biological mother who, unfortunately, suffers from alcoholism and a keen desire to exploit her son. With his sidekick Ruby, Jacob eventually responds to Jade’s overtures and little good comes as a result. Eventually abandoned again by Jade, Jacob settles into his new community and accepts that his circle of family and friends includes a mishmash of outsiders and odd types, but they are mostly supportive and loving.
Classroom Connections: Greer is a Maritimer with a gift for capturing the thought processes of a young adolescent male which, as a former boys’ school teacher, I can testify will sometimes lead to strange decision-making. The themes this book addresses—changing communities/schools, family dysfunction, substance abuse, grief and longing—are common problems for middle schoolers pretty much everywhere. Selected by CBC books as one of 15 titiles for intermediate-aged and YA audiences to read in summer 2023, Jacob’s Dilemma is also available in ebook and PDF versions.
Review by George Sheppard.
This review is featured in Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Fall 2023 issue.