Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Christine Hart
Best Laid Plans
Teen Fiction
James Lorimer and Company Ltd., Publisher
150 pages, $9.95

When parents are the problem. 

What do you do if it's your parents that are leading you down a destructive path? Award-winning children's writer CHRISTINE HART asked herself that same question when as an employment counsellor she was meeting at-risk youth who were in just that situation.

I had been exposed to at-risk youth as a high school student, and then later as a working professional. In both cases, I was repeatedly meeting young people who were being held back by their own parents; those experiences are what prompted me to write the book,” says Hart.

Hart’s just-released novel for teen readers focuses on a teenage girl, Robyn, who struggles with the decision to leave her family behind to attend university even though her parents pressure her to stay and work on the failing family farm, a move that would likely leave her to face a difficult financial future.

“It’s not often in the realm of kids books that the situation of one’s parents being a bad influence exists, but it does happen in real life. I wanted to communicate how hard it can be to build a life for yourself with huge barriers standing in your way, and how it’s even more difficult when it’s your parents who are the barriers to your future plans.”
s yparents that are leading you down a destructive path? Award-winning children’s writer Christine Hart asked herself that same question when as an employment counsellor she was meeting at-risk youth who were in   
book review by joylene nowell butler (5 stars)

Every so often I come across a novel that touches a cord and leaves me yearning for more. Generally it's because I relate to the situation or I admire the protagonist. In Christine Hart's Best Laid Plans, I connected immediately to Robyn Earle and had to take a double check to see whether this book was indeed fiction. As the title implies, like all of us, Robyn wants to believe she has control over her future. And she does, if her parents don't ruin it for her.

Christine Hart has a talent for creating such remarkable real-life characters that you will believe she's written a story about you or one of your friends. While captivated by Hart's genius at weaving the plot, you can't help but wonder how she was able to get inside your head.

Best Laid Plans crosses generation boundaries and is so well written and such a moving story that I could no sooner set it aside than say goodbye to the characters. Robyn Earle is that young girl inside all of us. She's that girl who is afraid to make the wrong decision, but who so desperately wants to grow up and escape. She carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. She feels responsible for her sister, for her mother and father. She has to remind her dad that she's the kid, not the adult.

On the eve of high-school graduation, Robyn understands that turning to her family for help with tuition fees for university isn't an option. All she has to do is look around at their dilapidated orchard to see that whatever her father puts his hands to fails. Nor does she begrudge him his failures. She simply applies for and gets a job so she can pay for university herself. Robyn dreams of becoming an architect, and despite being poor and on assistance, she is determined to make something of her life.

She's got what it takes too: intelligence, determination, and focus. But her greatest enemy is her family and her own willingness to let them tear apart her dreams. The taxes on the land they inherited from her grandmother are overdue, and Robyn's dad cannot believe she would rather go to university then help them save the orchard.

Best Laid Plans is the story of a young woman on the cusp of self-discovery. Will she reach for her dream and leave her family behind? Or will she save the orchard her father is bent on destroying?

I recommend this book for those young people in your life. Best Laid Plans should be required reading for all high school students: boys and girls.

CHRISTINE HART lives in Victoria, B.C. She writes short stories and young adult fiction, and was the recent recipient of the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards (Gold Medal) for Watching July.


  1. I can't keep my daughter in enough books, so hearing about a new one is always great news. Thanks Joylene. And Christine, for writing it.

  2. Thanks for showcasing such talented writers. I'm buying a copy of Best Laid Plans for my granddaughter. This book sounds like something she should read.

  3. Thanks for your comments, Marina and Joan. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised and pleased with Best Laid Plans.


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