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Poster Boy

by Dede Crane

Graydon Fallon – “Gray” to his friends and family – is living the teenage dream. Though still a virgin, things are looking good with his hot girlfriend Natalie, who lets him get to second base in his basement bedroom/party pit. Evenings of Xboxing and dope-smoking with best friend and fellow “fringe stoner” Davis break up the monotony of high school, and Gray’s parents are laying off the discipline so long as he keeps his grades at a decent level.

Life, Gray muses, feels like “one long smooth road. No bumps, no curves, not even a stop light.” Then Gray’s 12-year-old sister Maggie comes down with a flu or a cold that won’t go away. A couple of weeks later she receives a diagnosis that shatters the Fallon family’s equilibrium: stage-four rhabdomyosarcoma, a fatal strain of cancer. Desperate to find a cure and a cause for Maggie’s illness, the formerly commitment-averse Gray reinvents himself as an eco-warrior bent on ridding the world of cancer-causing foods and chemicals.

Gray’s transformation from gormless teen to fanatical crusader is believable and touching – perhaps a little too believable in the book’s middle sections, where Gray’s eco rants take on a repetitive, shrill desperation.

In this, her second novel for teens, Victoria, B.C., author Dede Crane evokes the dynamics of a family in crisis without resorting to melodrama or sentimentality, an admirable achievement given the subject matter. Better still, Poster Boy is funny when it needs to be, easing readers toward an understanding of death – which, if they’re lucky, is still a long way down the road.


Reviewer: James Grainger

Publisher: Groundwood Books


Price: $12.95

Page Count: 216 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 978-0-88899-861-3

Released: Sept.

Issue Date: 2009-9


Age Range: 14+