Nicholson, Lorna Schultz. Big Air
3 March 2014, James Lorimer and Company
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Jax is glad to be at the Podium School, where he can concentrate on his snowboarding and not have to worry about his alcoholic brother or mother. He loves teaching and competing in snowboarding events, and living with the Martinos (who billet students from Podium) and his friend Rob is fabulous. When his brother Marc shows up, though, Jax knows there will be problems. Marc is constantly in trouble with the law, and wants money from Jax to support his drug habit. When Jax refuses to give him anything, Marc shows up at the Martino's house with his friends while Jax and Rob are having a small party. At first, Jax is able to fend them off, but eventually the group breaks into the house and starts to steal things. When Rob confronts Marc, he is hit in the head with a snowboard and badly injured. Jax doesn't tell the police about his brother's involvement, which gets him in trouble later. One of the policemen is very negative about First People, and Jax is framed as being involved. Will Jax's involvement with his brother mean getting kicked out of Podium?
Strengths: I love the Lorimer sports books. This had such good details about snowboarding, but also a very riveting story. Jax's cultural heritage is mentioned and is important to the story, but is not the entire story. This is a high interest/low level book, so while there are more "mature" topics mentioned (alcohol, drugs), good choices are always made. This makes this popular with some struggling readers who want "older" books instead of having to read Nate the Great.
Weaknesses: There are always a few instances in these books that show clearly that things are slightly different in Canada, but not so many that students can't understand the plot. May have to see if there are any Lorimer lacrosse or hockey books. Many of these even have Accelerated Reader tests.