Barry Squires, Full Tilt

Barry Squires, Full Tilt
written by Heather Smith
Penguin Teen Canada, 2020
978-0-7352-6746-6 (hc) $21.99
for Grades 7 and up

Fiction | Humour | Self-Esteem | Family Drama | Depression | Friendship | Dance

Feisty Finbar Squires (aka Barry) is a young man on a mission: to join the ranks of Father O’Flaherty’s Full Tilt Irish Step Dancers. Convinced that his prodigious talent will earn him immediate acceptance, he remains undeterred by his family’s skepticism. As he enthusiastically pursues his goal, he manages to still find time to “get up to no good” with his new friend Saibal, antagonize his English teacher and spend most of his school days hanging out with Mrs. Muckle, the principal, and become a regular at the One Step Closer to God Nursing Home. Most of all, Barry looks forward to spending time with his baby brother Gord. When his dancing aspirations don’t go quite according to plan, his infamous temper flares once again. But then his family is dealt a devastating blow, and Barry learns firsthand the healing powers of family love, friends and forgiveness.

As in her award-winning novel Ebb and Flow, Heather Smith has created an endearingly flawed and utterly winsome pre-teen protagonist with a charm all his own. Barry’s apparent over-confidence does not disguise his vulnerability as he seeks to be known for something other than the port-wine stain birthmark on his face. His hilarious hijinks help capture the unique flavour of his community, and his relationships with his family and the odd cast of characters that are his friends are entertaining, vividly rendered and heartwarming. With its utterly delightful characters and vibrant sense of place, this book is chock-full of humour and heart. Yet it is also deeply

Lisa Doucet is Co-Manager of Woozles in Halifax.

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