By Jane Ozkowski
age 13 to 18
Synopsis from Groundwood Books:
Emily has finally finished high school in the small town where she has lived her whole life. At last, she thinks, her adult life can begin. But what if you have no idea what you want your new life to look like? What then? While Lincoln gets ready to go backpacking in Australia, Melissa packs for university on the east coast, and a new guy named Tyler provides welcome distraction, Emily wonders whether she will end up working forever at Pamela’s Country Catering, cutting the crusts off party sandwiches and stuffing mushrooms. Is this her future? Being known forever as the local girl whose mother abandoned her in the worst way possible all those years ago? Visiting her spacey grandmother, watching nature shows on TV with her dad and hanging out with Robert the grocery clerk? Listening to the distant hum of the highway leading out of the town everyone can’t wait to leave?
The end of high school for many means the first step into adulthood. That’s what the story Watching Traffic (affiliate link) explores. Emily, Lincoln, and Melissa have been friends for awhile in their small town but the end of high school means change for all of them. As Lincoln and Melissa have plans, following the highway out of town to take charge of their new found adult lives — Lincoln is headed to Australia to explore while Melissa is headed to an east coast art school — Emily struggles with her future.
Her not so private past as the toddler found in her mother’s blood still haunt her with whispers and nods from those living in her small town but even that’s not enough for her to make a dash for brighter lights and busier roads. Being comfortable with what you know versus taking a risk to try something new is just one of those many “adult-like” decisions that face Emily. This conflict in future plans plays itself out with the three friends as they come to terms that their friendship is changing, perhaps ending.
A bit of a slice of life story, Watching Traffic touches on the sometimes parazling decisions that face teens on the cusp of adulthood, including stepping out on your own and the change in friendship. The story is a reminder that this stage, unlike earlier childhood stages, trusts attention and decisions on the teen versus the parent. And it’s okay to not have all the answers.
You can get an inside peek to this book in the following video review, published on our Youtube channel every Wednesday: