Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Sketches, by Eric Walters


The more I read of Eric Walters, the more I come to terms with the fact that, despite his overwhelming popularity and critical approval, I really can't stand his writing style. It is so incredibly teachy. So incredibly messagy that it hurts. The trouble is though, that I often like the premise, and even the actual plot of the stories. It is the dialogue and the exposition surrounding the actions that pains me.

That is most certainly the case here. Sketches tells the story of Dana, a teen who has left her home in the suburbs to escape her abusive stepfather, and finds herself alone on the streets of downtown Toronto. There she meets and befriends two other homeless youths, both of whom have had to escape untenable family situations.

We get a good chunk of action surrounding their day to day attempts at survival. But, the real point of the story comes in when Dana is, for some unexplained reason, alone a graffiting an underpass. Why? Perhaps all homeless teens with an artistic bent take to painting graffiti? At any rate, and as luck would have it, she is spotted and approached by an outreach worker from a drop-in centre for homeless and at-risk youth. But this isn't any ordinary drop-in centre, it is an arts centre.

Apparently the place actually exists, and that is fantastic, because, it sounds like an incredible way for teens who find themselves on the streets, or street-involved to develop their artistic skills. And, if it is anything like as it is portrayed in the book, it also represents a way for these youths to find a means of moving off or away from the streets.

However, the way the people who work at Sketches talk in this book was disgusting. I felt like I was reading the bad script of a painful after school special from the 1980s. Yet again Eric Walters has found a timely and important topic, written a boring story about it, and given the characters such terrible dialogue as to make the thing a danger to read. Read it for the topicality if you must, but don't say I didn't warn you.


Maggie said...

I have to say I totally agree with you about Eric Walters. I liked his very first book a lot and maybe his second and third. But everything else after that just felt rushed and formulaic.

MadJenny said...

I think the thing that upsets me about him is that he picks great topics. He has the building blocks. And he disappoints me every single time. I always want him to be better than he is.