Elizabeth Varadan | The Children’s Book Review | February 21, 2015
By Caroline Stellings
Age Range: 17 and up
Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Cape Breton University Press (October 1, 2013)
What to Expect: Humor, adventure, an inside view of the world of boxing, and a trip back in time to the late 1970s.
This funny novel is told through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Ellie, but the real star is her older sister Tina. They live in Whitney Pier over the gym where their father, a former boxer, trains aspiring boxers. Tina is small in size, due to dwarfism, but giant in spirit, and she’s as avid about boxing as her father. In the gym, she dishes out her own conflicting boxing advice. After a blow up with her father, she decides to leave Whitney Pier for Boston where she’s a candidate in an experimental program for the Ilizarov limb-lengthening procedure.
Ellie goes with her, and the road trip that unfolds is full of humorous twists and turns. The sisters travel partway with a friend’s grown daughter, Bonita. At Bonita’s, they join Paul, the manager of a young light-heavyweight boxer, half-Cherokee, half Mi’kmaw, called Mankiller. Paul has several fights lined up for Mankiller with the ultimate goal the North American title in Boston—just where Tina wants to end up. But her boxing instincts kick in, and soon she is dishing out advice to Mankiller and taking over his training, while gangsters hover in the background, wanting Mankiller to lose.
Stellings is a master storyteller and her writing crackles with wit. Her characters, having to deal with more than one kind of social bias, ring true. The ages of the characters and some of the language made me feel this was more New Adult than Young Adult. That said, it’s lively read, full of surprises to the very end.
“But waiting for a moment for Tina to be reasonable and open to seeing things anybody’s way was like trying to dash across the road at rush hour. Wait too long and you’ll be there forever. Attempt to cross too soon and you’ll be smashed to pieces.”
This book will appeal to older teens who like smart, sassy protagonists and interesting, diverse characters.
Add this book to your collection: The Manager, by Caroline Stellings
About the Author
Caroline Stellings is an award-winning author and illustrator of books for children and young adults, including the best-selling Malagawatch Mice series from CBU press. Her novel The Contest won the ForeWord Book of the Year Award and, along with The Malagawatch Mice and the Cat Who Discovered America, was a finalist for the Hackmatack Children’s Choice award. She lives in Waterdown, Ontario.
The Manager, by Caroline Stellings, was reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan.