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Would You

from the Toronto Star:

... Marthe Jocelyn, author of the TD Award-winning middle-grade novel Mable Riley – plus several other novels, anthologies and a shelf full of picture books – now takes her considerable talents into the realm of teen literature in Would You (ages 12+). Jocelyn demonstrates, once again, the versatile creativity that allows her not just to captivate readers, but to take them farther than most in thinking about and understanding the human condition.

Natalie is spending the summer before Grade 11 having fun – working as a lifeguard, hanging out with friends and doing the occasional midnight pool-hop for excitement. One night, her older sister Claire is hit by a car, left so badly injured that she falls into a coma.

Suddenly, the game "would you?" that Nat and her friends play takes on a whole different meaning. It's no longer a funny contest to gross each other out, but a way to pose questions Natalie must confront about her sister's future:

"Would you rather feel blinding, scorching pain and then die quickly? Or no pain, but prolonged, trembling decay instead?" Or, in another version, "What if she dies? And what if she doesn't?"

Jocelyn writes with sombre wisdom and humour about this life-changing situation. We get a strong sense of Claire as sister and friend, but this is Natalie's story. She recounts the impressions, thoughts and experiences of an intense 10 days, from the night before the accident to the evening after Claire's funeral.

Nat's tale is an accumulation of short passages with headlines; a map of the geographical, practical and emotional distance she travels. "The First Doctor of Many" is one section. "What Do They Mean, Exactly?" is another. "Invasion of the Well-meaning" marks the descent of friends and neighbours. "We Make Room For New Truths" is the moment the family realizes that Claire's brain is dead.

How sensational, how melodramatic a subject, one might think. But this is a sane, compassionate novel, reflecting not predictable YA angst but the calm, sadness, fear and even pleasure of a girl who lives a traumatic week with clear-eyed perception and openness.

Would You offers the brisk pace and sparky friendships of a quick YA read... but the critical difference is Jocelyn's hallmark as a writer – a dry, quirky sense of humour; unexpected, refreshing turns of phrase; and insights articulated so lucidly that they will stick in the mind for years.

Deirdre Baker, Small Print