From Goodreads: Staying quiet will destroy her, but speaking up will destroy everyone. Kate Franklin’s life changes for the better when her dad lands a job at Beacon Prep, an elite private school with one of the best basketball teams in the state. She begins to date a player on the team and quickly gets caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, learning that there are perks to being an athlete. But those perks also come with a price. Another player takes his power too far and Kate is assaulted at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The world that Kate was once welcomed into is now her worst enemy, and she must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes. Canary is told in a mix of prose and verse, and has earned tons of fantastic author endorsements and complimentary reviews.
Such a beautiful cover, right? I like the story beneath it too. Canary is an issue book that deals with a lot of issues: death of a parent (Kate’s mom), athlete elitism (something I don’t see addressed often in YA), academic integrity at an upper-class private school, sexual assault, and anxiety over a military family member’s well-being (a topic that strikes particularly close to home for me).
Kate’s a great narrator. She’s a “normal girl” (for lack of a better term), and I had no trouble relating to her as a high schooler who’s trying to find her niche at a new school and in a new life. My favorite part of Canary are the blog posts — penned by Kate, and mostly in verse — sprinkled throughout the narrative. Kate’s online words are confessions, thoughtful and profound, and sometimes cheeky and clever. Check out a bit of this obviously sardonic “post,” about proper care and handling of a Beacon basketball player boyfriend…
“Maintain a happy attitude, even if you feel sad. Smile and laugh often. Let him know life is perfect for you when he’s around. Agree to what he wants to do, be where he wants to be, watch what he wants to watch, and become interested in the things that interest him. Remember constantly how lucky you are to have acquired a Beacon basketball player boyfriend.”
Another aspect of Canary I appreciate is Kate’s connection with her big brother, Brett. The push-and-pull of their authentic sibling relationship is incredibly well done, and I love the protective role he plays in Kate’s life, especially when it comes to her boyfriend Jack (who I’m still a little torn about). Brett is mature, and he’s often the voice of reason Kate herself sometimes lacks. He’s my favorite of all Canary‘s characters.
I recommend Canary for fans of serious, issue-based contemporary YA, books like Daisy Whitney’s Mockingbirds, and Chelsea Pitcher’s The S-Word.
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