Sixteen-year-old July MacKenzie can hardly recognize her own life anymore. A few months ago, she was enjoying her urban lifestyle in Vancouver, going to school, hanging out with the same old friends she'd had for years. Now, when she steps out her back door, the only evidence of human existence she sees is an empty road, stretching off in the distance to nowhere.
It all happened so fast! Her mom was killed in a hit and run accident, and before she knew it Marie, her other parent, had sold the house, packed up and moved them out into the Interior. How could she leave everything behind like that? July could never make new friends. She'd never get used to the dark nights of the countryside. And she'd never, ever, stop missing her birth mom as long as she lived!
But then July meets the boy down the road. Surprised to find herself falling in love and making friends at school, she starts to see the possibility of building a new life. But mysterious events soon make it clear that her new world is still very connected to her past. When it is revealed that her mother's death was not what it seemed, July must face some shocking discoveries that quickly gain a momentum that spirals out of control.
In Watching July, author Christine Hart brings her readers into the innermost feelings, fears and joys of a contemporary teen. In the face of loss, relocation and the challenges of growing up, July gains the courage to move on from her past and confront the dangers in her present. July's struggle to find a strong voice will resonate in the hearts and minds of today's youth.
July Mackenzie was an average, happy teenaged girl, who enjoyed life, got along well with her family and had good friends at a school she liked. However, the day her mother was killed in an automobile accident would change her forever. After her mother’s death, July’s step-mom (her biological mother’s partner) packed them up and moved them to a small town in the British Columbia Interior, where they could start over and try to re-build a life together.
This element of the story is what brings about enormous amounts of trouble for July. First she was dealing with her mother’s passing, but now she must also face a new home where she knows
no one, a new school – which for teens is so hard – and the loneliness of being separated from her friends. Add to this the pressure of making new friends with kids who may consider her an outsider, being that she is from a big city. Also the judgements she may receive from people because of growing up within a same-sex family. It’s amazing that July survives as well as she has, with only mild depression and anxiety.
Eventually things settle down for July as she finds a few close friends and begins a relationship with the most sought after boy in town. But the good times don’t last long, as July starts being plagued by terrifying nightmares that strike a paranoia within her that compels her to investigate the details of her mother’s accident.
Watching July is a very engaging story with wonderful use of suspense, the many plot twists keep this book interesting even with some predictability. Most of the characters are well developed with their own distinct appeal, however some of the secondary characters seemed unimportant to the story as a whole. The relationships between characters were strong and
mostly realistic, although some of the dialogue did not translate well and felt slightly awkward. Overall, I enjoyed Watching July, but felt it needed a bit more polish.
About The Author
Christine Hart lives in Victoria, BC. Hart, who is a communications specialist, has also done freelance writing for newspapers, magazines, websites and corporations. Watching July is her first novel.
Published by Sumach Press
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