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Lake Rules

by Maureen Garvie

Like a perfect summer at the cottage, Maureen Garvie’s Lake Rules is full of good books, messing around in boats, and the occasional hike into town for added excitement and adventure.

Thirteen-year-old Leia Greenway is almost delirious with joy over her new family cottage, Wasamak, on Half Moon Bay. It’s been a tough year for Leia with her parents’ divorce, her move from small-town Port Hope to Toronto, and her brothers, Hugo, 8, and Tim, 15, both coming down with serious cases of chicken pox. But she’s all prepared for the idyllic summer ahead, and when she makes a new friend in Cass, the girl next door, everything seems perfect. Even digging a kitchen garden is an adventure, when Leia and her brothers find pottery shards and other Algonkin Indian artifacts.

The perfect summer comes under fire when a local developer plans to build a trailer park on the shore of their lake – on the site of what was once an Algonkin settlement. To make matters worse, Leia and her friends become suspects in a series of local crimes that threaten to kibosh their plans to prove that the land has lasting historical value. With a little help from an unexpected source, they not only put a stop to the destruction of Half Moon Bay, they also find a sacred Algonkin burial site that will ensure the land is protected in perpetuity.

In Lake Rules, Maureen Garvie has carefully created a number of engaging storylines. It’s the multi-layered texture of the tale that makes it work so well: it’s part archeological adventure story and part mystery, but it’s also a moving exploration of family dynamics and the nature of friendships as well as a careful examination of the issue of First Nations land claims. Garvie is particularly good at giving voice to Leia’s inner voice and emotions and documenting her conflicts with Cass and her maturing friendship with her older brother. A satisfying addition to the literature of cottage life, Lake Rules joins the ranks of novels like Julie Johnston’s The Only Outcast, Kit Pearson’s A Handful of Time, and Jake MacDonald’s Juliana and the Medicine Fish.