Manitoba teens Jess and Sara Jean both know the terrible feelings of loss and doubt a child faces from having a parent abandon them.
Both are torn between staying put in the communities they have grown up in and playing the roles they have dutifully played all their lives, and leaving all they’ve known behind to explore what else the world has to offer. This is where their similarities end. Sara Jean is a Caucasian young woman who dreams of going to university and following her dream of writing. Jess is a Métis young man with a history of arson, for which he is serving the titular 250 hours of community service, starting with cleaning up Sara Jean’s family’s garage. Forced together, these two discover clues to secrets that may lead to answers both their communities need to move on in harmony, and they must decide whether to stand up for what they believe in. The saving grace of the narrative—the truth of the town’s past that supposedly becomes unraveled at the end—is overshadowed by the forced star-crossed-love story of Jess and Sara Jean. The dialogue between characters feels as contrived as the chemistry between the leads, a failing that goes hand in hand with uneven storytelling that is at times heavy-handed and at other times not powerful enough to drive home its point.
A potentially intriguing tale hampered by a romance that never really lights a spark. (Mystery. 14-18)