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The Middle of Everywhere
By author: Monique Polak
Selling Points: The North, survival, acceptance, racism, indigenous
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: Oct/01/2009
Lexile Level: 660L
Pages: 208
Fiction Ages 12+
Price:  $12.95
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Tarksalik is about forty feet ahead of me, running by the side of the road. I can tell she's got sled-dog blood in her from the way she runs: head high, legs taut.

The sun has just come up, and when it lands on Tarksalik, it looks like she's shining too. For the first time since I found out I'd be spending this term in Nunavik, in northern Quebec, getting reacquainted with my dad, I don't feel one hundred percent miserable. Right now, as I let the fresh cold air fill my lungs, I'd say I'm down to about eighty-five percent miserable.

Maybe, I think as I watch Tarksalik run, this visit won't turn out to be a total disaster. Maybe there's more to life than Montreal.

Noah Thorpe is spending the school term in George River, in Quebec's Far North, where his dad is an English teacher in the Inuit community. Noah's not too keen about living in the middle of nowhere, but getting away from Montreal has one big advantage: he gets a break from the bully at his old school.

But Noah learns that problems have a way of following you—no matter how far you travel. To the Inuit kids, Noah is a qallunaaq—a southerner, someone ignorant of the customs of the North. Noah thinks the Inuit have a strange way of looking at the world, plus they eat raw meat and seal blubber. Most have never left George River—a town that doesn't even have its own doctor, let alone a McDonald's.

But Noah's views change when he goes winter camping and realizes he will have to learn a few lessons from his Inuit buddies if he wants to make it home.
Tacoma School District #10 - January 5, 2012
"The story eloquently addresses coming of age, understanding different cultures, and the values of a young teen as he spends time with his father in a predominately Inuit culture."
Canadian Children's Book News - July 1, 2010
"A well-crafted, revealing look at Inuit culture…A memorable book - a very worthwhile and important read for youth who are open to learning about the lived experiences of others with much to teach."
The ALAN Review - June 1, 2010
"Noah's greatest adventure is discovering that the middle of nowhere can be the beginning of something new."
Booklist - November 15, 2009
"The harsh living conditions and culture of the Inuit abound. Yet, the actions, thoughts, and fears portrayed are of any typical 15-year-old boy who finds himself in an atypical setting…The commotion (storms, polar bears, and tragedy at camp) keeps our attention."
CM Magazine - November 6, 2009
"Useful for its discussion of Canada's Inuit culture and the history of oppression that accompanies it, as well as the effect of climate change on northern life. I highly recommend this book; it is engaging, entertaining and a pleasure to read."
School Library Journal - November 1, 2009
"The survival-adventure details will engage reluctant readers [and] the story has elements of romance when Noah strives to impress an Inuit classmate…Add this to survival/adventure collections."
Resource Links - October 1, 2009
"A powerful novel that blends the emotional insecurities of young teenage boys with their need to be strong...Polak delivers her tale with a simplicity and realism that brings the readers into the northern world."
Kirkus Reviews - September 15, 2009
"A great deal of information about daily life and Inuit culture is packed into the recounting of a few days in the community. Beer, bullying and a hint of romance keep the first-person narrative in the typical 15-year-old realm. The conditions of life are harsh but not impossible, and the gradual rapprochement between Noah and his dad adds a nice counterpoint to Noah's reaction to this exotic world into which he not only arrives but that he discovers he admires."


Resource Links "The Year's Best", commended  CA  2009
Quebec Writers' Federation Prize nominee, short-listed  CA  2010

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