Saturday, June 18, 2011

Review of Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones

Wynne-Jones, Tim.  Blink & Caution.  Candlewick Press, 2011.

Blink (real name: Brent) is living on the streets of Toronto to get away from a violent stepfather.  Caution (real name: Kitty) is living with a vicious drug dealer to escape from a tragedy that has made her believe she has no right to happiness.

Blink witnesses a puzzling scene in the hallway of a fancy hotel - a rich guy apparently stages his own kidnapping.  Blink uses a cell phone left behind at the scene to get in touch with the rich man's daughter, who convinces Blink to travel to a remote lodge to see if her dad might be there.  It's in the train station on the way out of town that the two teens meet - Caution steals Blink's money, then has a change of heart and helps him with his task instead.

The pseudo-kidnapping, complete with political/industrial intrigue, thugs with guns, and other thriller trappings, provides the framework from which the basic plot hangs and moves the story forward at a heart-quickening pace.

It's Caution's story, and to a lesser extent Blink's, that provides the heart of the story, however, as well as much of the suspense.  Her self-loathing, her grief, and her refusal to believe that anyone could love her after the event for which she blames herself, are so vast that she has become self-destructive.  Her journey back toward emotional health and the strong family that loves her is tentative, suspenseful, and utterly absorbing.

Blink's story is a bit less dramatic, though still sad and probably all too common.  His life on the street is pretty horrible, and it's easy to understand how a terrifyingly abusive stepdad could lead Blink to it - but it's harder to see why he didn't go to his loving grandparents much earlier.  Perhaps, being a very young and fairly clueless teen, he just didn't think they would take him in or offer him what he needed.  Maybe he thought that somehow he wouldn't be on the streets long.  Certainly his belief that he could make money via the dubious agreement he makes with the rich man's daughter proves his naivete.

I loved all the little bits and pieces that make this story a colorful, multi-dimensional story.  The millionaire businessman isn't what he seemed at first, and neither is his daughter.  One of the "thugs" is actually quite a nice guy - and in fact the whole preposterous scene at the lodge is strangely believable thanks to him.  Blink and Caution turn out to have plenty of loving, good people in their lives - they just have to believe in themselves before they can trust anyone else.

This is a definite Printz contender for all the right reasons, and the biggest one is that it's a well-written tale that teens are going to love.  Highly recommended for ages 14 to 18.

No comments:

Post a Comment