Canary by Rachele Alpine
Published by Medallion Press, 2013
Staying quiet will destroy her, but speaking up will destroy everyone.
Kate Franklin’s life changes for the better when her dad lands a job at Beacon Prep, an elite private school with one of the best basketball teams in the state. She begins to date a player on the team and quickly gets caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, learning that there are perks to being an athlete.
But those perks also come with a price. Another player takes his power too far and Kate is assaulted at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The world that Kate was once welcomed into is now her worst enemy, and she must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes.
Canary is told in a mix of prose and verse.
Kate's life turns upside down when her father gets a job at a private school coaching basketball. He insists her and her brother go to the school. Kate has a great time making new friends and lands a boyfriend on the basketball team, who everyone worships at this school. So she becomes very popular and starts going to a lot of parties.
Only, Kate starts to see things about the basketball team that aren't right, like players cheating on schoolwork and getting away with it, the way the team members treat girls, and look down at anyone who doesn't play basketball. Worse, they find it so easy to justify and don't listen to her when she tries to let them know she doesn't approve. And then one day they do the unthinkable to her. Kate must decide how to handle the situation - keep quiet and save her father's job, or speak up for herself and everyone else they've hurt.
Canary was a book that I have been excited to read for a while now. I was looking forward to lots of scandal and hopefully getting a glimpse of the basketball team and seeing what would happen when/if Kate decided to blow the whistle. I guess some of that was true of this book, but there were also other things like Kate reflecting back on her life, dealing with her dad's obsession with coaching, and the team picking on her brother.
All that was okay, except that it made for a much more depressing story than I had expected. Plus I have recently read at least three young adult books this month were a character's mother died of cancer. I just think this is very overused in YA. Not cancer in general, but absentee or deceased parents.
When it came to the scandal in the basketball team this part was so subtle up until nearly the end of the book I was starting to wonder when anything really big was going to happen. I wished it would have come earlier because that part was actually really good. For the most part, this book was really about Kate trying to figure out who she is and reflecting on her family and her past. And I wish the summary would have reflected this better because I would have enjoyed the story more instead of feeling like I was waiting for her reaction the whole time.
Overall this was a good book that I have mixed feelings for. I liked certain things about it like the family drama with Kate's brother, wondering if her friends really cared for her or if they were using her, and the scandal at the end of the book. Other things I didn't like so much.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.