Kirkus Reviews QR Code
TAKE OFF! by Lea Beddia


by Lea Beddia

Pub Date: March 15th, 2023
ISBN: 9781989996133
Publisher: Rebel Mountain Press

A gay Canadian teenager’s mettle gets tested hard both at school and on the trail.

As if the struggle to make passing grades and cope with severe test anxiety aren’t bad enough, Marisa has to endure homophobic comments and constant harassment from Aimee, a sneering classmate and former friend, not only in high school, but even on a day hike when she’s paired with her tormentor and fellow classmate Dawn during a weekend extra-credit survival camp. Worse yet, by blowing off several safety rules, Aimee manages to injure her leg and lose the backpack containing both the emergency phone and, it turns out, her insulin pump. Beddia really piles up the challenges, even throwing in a thunderstorm and a plane crash, but she gives her protagonist a good grounding in precisely described wilderness survival skills and a cool head under pressure—both of which repeatedly come into play as they weather the crisis. Marisa’s ability to cope when the going gets tough will strike readers as admirable, and the lack of a tidy resolution to the personal conflict adds a note of realism to the end. The cast of this novel set in Québec registers as White; Marisa has a close male friend who wears makeup, and in Dawn, a new possible partner.

A suspenseful survival tale well stocked with both physical and ethical challenges.

(Fiction. 12-14)