In this fast-paced, on-the-road YA novel, Norma Charles once again manages to include provocative social issues in an adventure story that will appeal to children from age twelve and up.
Charles takes on the issue of young girls being forced to marry older men in polygamist religious communities. She also explores the issues surrounding mixed-race families. Fifteen-year-old Jacob Armstrong is disgruntled that his mother has decided that the whole family must accompany his sister, Minerva, to her new university on a road trip all the way from Vancouver to Winnipeg.
The only saving grace is that he and Minerva get to drive in a peppy little Mini, away from the rest of the embarrassingly crazy family in the family van — which includes their step-father, Fred Finkle, and his two sons, Barney, a stand up comedian-wanna-be, and Sam, an eleven-year-old dinosaur expert.
But before they leave BC, Minerva and Jacob are shocked to discover a stowaway in the backseat of their Mini. It’s a girl dressed in old-fashioned clothes and desperate to escape from her home and get to Winnipeg. She begs the siblings not only to take her with them, but asks them to keep her presence in the backseat a secret.
Where, they ask, has she come from? Why is she so desperate to escape? And just who is after her? And why?
The Girl in the Backseat is a novel that takes you on an urgent journey across the prairies where Jacob uncovers some uncomfortable truths about himself and his attitude towards people who are different. It also explores how tolerance, understanding and a positive sense of self-worth can grow and develop from unexpected encounters.
“Norma Charles’s new book is top-notch and right on form. The right blend of suspense, misadventure and humour makes The Girl in the Backseat a pure delight to read.” — James Heneghan
“Careful handling of a controversial subject makes this story an excellent read. A young girl, Toby, is desperate to flee from her religious community in British Columbia when she learns she’s to be married at fourteen to a much older man—someone she’s never met. Toby makes her escape by hiding in the back seat of a Mini driven by Minerva and Jacob, siblings on a family road trip to take Minerva to university in Manitoba. Suspenseful and adventurous, this novel deals with contemporary issues — blended families, polygamous religious communities and prejudice—with humour and understanding.” – Canadian Teacher Magazine
FINALIST! Red Cedar Book Awards 2010–11 (B.C.’s Young Readers’ Choice Awards.)
BRONZE MEDAL! Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, 2008
FINALIST! Chocolate Lily Book Awards 2009/2010