Ages 12+ (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2011)
Inside Helaine Becker, there must reside the soul of a 15-year-old boy. I know this because I just spent the afternoon pulled into into the world of Cam Stewart, the mountain-biking, adventurous and somewhat rebellious main character of Trouble in the Hills.
Grounded by his father, Cam takes off into the mountains near his home for an early spring run on his bike. After an epic wipe-out during which he barely cheats death, Cam struggles to make it down the mountain before nightfall. However, with his busted-up ankle, he knows he stands no chance. Instead, he prepares to spend the night exercising his survival skills and evading black bears. He doesn’t anticipate however teaming up with the lost but wilful Samira as she runs to escape human traffickers, or stumbling upon a gang of drug runners while they attempt to lay claim to the back trails.
Trouble in the Hills is a fast-paced novel framed by short chapters and a boatload of action, intrigue and adventure that will appeal to even the most reluctant reader.
As for how Becker came about her knowledge of survival in the BC mountains, how she gained such apparent expertise with mountain bikes, drug runners and decomposing corpses, and how she learned to speak so convincingly as a 15 year old boy, I don’t know. But I’m glad she did. She totally nailed it!