At Yellow Lake

by Jane McLoughlin
ages: 14+
Review copy provided by my place of employment.

I was asked to read this at work, because we get some sort of “credit” for doing so. (I have no idea what this is.) They told me up front, that I didn’t have to finish it, that I only had to give it a try.

Good thing.

Because I hated it.

Well, hated it a strong word. I didn’t hate it. But, I spent a good portion of 200 pages or so I gave this book (It’s a 400 page book!) trying to figure out just who the audience was.

The book is, nominally, the story of three kids: 14-year-old Etta, who has moved to northern Minnesota with her mom to escape her mom’s bad ex-boyfriend (who, of course, turns up); 15-year-old Peter, a kid from England, who has come on his own to Yellow Lake to bury his mom’s fingernails, his mom’s dying request; and 16-year-old Jonah, an Ojibwe Indian who is trying to find his roots. It’s also, nominally, a mystery: there are Creepy Things going on at Yellow Lake, because the jacket flap says the kids lives are supposed to be threatened. I never got that far, though.

See, the book is way too angsty (and not thriller-y enough) to be targeted toward the upper-middle grade crowd. Not to mention the half a dozen f-bombs, and assorted other swearing. (Yes, I know kids swear in middle school; you just don’t see it in books unless it’s geared toward the high schoolers.) But, the story is too slow, too pedestrian, too… middle grade … to truly appeal to the teen crowd.

(Is this a good time to mention that the cover is hideous?)

Aside from the lack of audience, the book is okay. I was never really interested in the characters: out of the three, Jonah’s story seemed to have the most going for it, but by the time Peter and Etta showed up, it was turning into a horrible love-triangle, and I just didn’t have the patience for that.

Maybe the mystery would have been interesting, but after reading for half the book, I decided I wasn’t invested enough to continue.

Perhaps someone else will be, though.

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