Cover Image

Living Rough by C. Watson

Watson, Cristy. Living Rough. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 2011. Print.

Another thought-provoking and poignant topic delivered by the Orca Current Series of books for reluctant middle-school readers. Edgar is a smart teen, living a rough life in an urban modern society.  He has a well-kept secret he hasn’t shared with anyone, not even his best friend Ben.  Edgar and his father are homeless.  After his mother died of cancer, his father became depressed, lost his job and house.  They had no choice but to move into a tent close to town.  A turn in the story twists Edgar’s life around.  A storm strikes that destroys their tent and injures his father.  Edgar must decide what to do with his secret, as sustaining this lifestyle is not an option.  He must decide if it's time to share with the world the issues related to homelessness.  

This contemporary realistic fiction discusses the controversial issue of homelessness through a child’s eyes.  Edgar encounters familiar teen issues of bullying, intimidation, cliques, inner conflict, and first love.  Canadian author and teacher Cristy Watson writes a realistic dialogue in life-like school settings in this, her second addition to the Orca Current series.  A progressive chronological plot strongly develops Edgar’s character and his secret adds suspense throughout the novel that will maintain the reader’s interest. This hi-lo novel, set in British Columbia, with short chapters and large font, will appeal to reluctant readers ages ten to fifteen.  Expressing the important themes of friendship, compassion, responsibility, and the complexity of homelessness, this novel can be integrated into a social studies or health curriculum.  Living Rough is a fast-paced novel with an audience-pleasing resolution.

Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Melissa Blackwood

Melissa Blackwood is a Primary/Elementary teacher, presently completing a Master of Education in Teacher-Librarianship with the University of Alberta.