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Disconnect by L. Peterson

Peterson, Lois. Disconnect. Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers, 2012. Print.

Fourteen-year-old Daria has just relocated from Calgary, Alberta to Delta, British Columbia and she’s not happy about the move! Determined to stay connected with her old friends, Daria’s cellphone becomes an almost permanent extension of her arm, frustrating her parents, teachers and classmates. Quirky Cleo, another new kid in town, tries to connect with Daria, but to no avail. Cleo suggests that Daria may be addicted to technology, but who's listening? Desperate to earn some extra cash so that she can return to Calgary for March Break, Daria reluctantly takes an after-school job as a babysitter.  Although she’s supposed to be watching out for Emmy and Caden, her two young charges, Daria has other things on her mind, with fateful consequences.

This is a timely and engaging story, simply told. Disconnect is one of the Orca Currents series of books for reluctant middle-school readers. Its short chapters, controlled vocabulary, limited number of characters and contemporary themes will have broad appeal, especially for those reluctant readers who seldom choose a novel. Although the story is somewhat didactic, middle-school students will easily recognize at least one of their friends in the self-absorbed, technology-obsessed character of Daria. The situation she finds herself in is entirely plausible, and Peterson's first-person narration, texting shorthand and true-to-teenagers dialogue create a sense of “being there.”

Although initially a writer of adult fiction, Lois Peterson now writes for children and teens. She has written 7 books for Orca Book Publishers, including one other designed specifically for struggling readers.

Disconnect would be an excellent addition to any public or middle school library collection. In our increasingly “connected” world, this novel raises some disquieting questions about technology’s impact on the quality of our connection to ourselves and others. A great discussion starter with strong curriculum ties to digital citizenship.

Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Terri Hayes

Terri Hayes is a teacher and student, currently completing a Master of Education in Teacher-Librarianship at the University of Alberta. Terri has been a voracious reader ever since her introduction to Dick & Jane at the age of six. Luckily, the quality of books for children has improved tremendously since those days, and now, one of her primary goals is to instill that same love of reading in her students. When she’s not scouring the local library for her next great read, Terri can usually be found reading to her grandchildren or hopping a plane to some destination she’s read about in a book.