When troubled high-schooler Jake Upshore hears rumours that his girlfriend, Skye, is pregnant and has skipped town to get an abortion, he decides to track her down in Halifax. She doesn’t return his text messages, so he steals a car (among other increasingly bad choices) and tries desperately to find a way to reach her. The real heart-wrencher is that Skye left behind a diary for Jake to read, but her handwriting is like code to him: Jake suffers from dyslexia.
In this newest novel from prolific children’s author Sheree Fitch, Jake has all of the anger issues and learning difficulties that might make a teenage boy seem hopeless and unapproachable. And yet, Fitch shows that beneath Jake’s frustrations and mistakes lies a boy who is only trying to improve his life and protect the girl he loves. The local police and teachers may see him as a bad seed, but with the help of a core support network – including his dad, his therapist, and Skye – Jake realizes he can finally make something of himself.
Jake proves himself to be a narrator with a natural poetic flair – he may have trouble with language, but he clearly loves it nonetheless. Unsurprisingly for Fitch, a longtime literacy advocate, Jake attempts to improve himself through songwriting, vocabulary lessons, and wordplay – without it coming off like a lesson. He is relatable and brutally honest, and his flaws will only endear him more to readers.