Summary: Sixteen year-old Kit’s father is a drunk that Kit has little respect toward. When the Newfoundland government puts a ban on cod fishing for two years, Kit’s father finds himself without a source of income. As a result, Kit’s family decides to move away from smalltown Parsons Cove to the big city of St. John’s in search of work. At first Kit is reluctant because she doesn’t want to leave her beloved Nan, but the move proves to change her and her family in unexpected ways. Tragedy strikes however, and Kit must decide whether she can put aside her conflict with her father to deal with it.
Number of Pages: 278 (paperback edition)
Age Range: 15-18
Review: Heather T. Smith’s character Kit seems to leap off the page with vibrancy and honesty. Immediately we are thrust into the action as Baygirl begins with an arguement between Kit and her drunken father, Alphonse, that sends her seeking solace from her Nan (grandmother) who lives just down the street.
Baygirl deals with difficult issues like alcoholism and bullying with humour and depth, introducing flawed and real but ultimately loveable characters. Kit’s struggle to come to terms with her relationship with her father despite his often drunken state is powerful, and Smith is skilled in showing the many sides of the situation through the insights of Iggy, Mr. Adams and Elliot.
In my Memorable Quotes section I have included some passages that made me laugh out loud, but also a passage about “The Mad Drunk” that struck me with the poetry of Smith’s words. I would have also included Kit’s whole speech about Parsons Bay and the happy memory of her father, but it was too long for me to put in. Suffice it to say I thought it was a vivid depiction of Newfoundland and was perfect for making me feel like I was really there.
I would recommend this book for teens impacted by parental decisions and actions, but due to some of the language, violence and mature themes, it is definitely for the older end of the teen spectrum.
“What did Elliot see in Amanda Shea? Maybe he was attracted to girls with big boobs. If that was the case, I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.” – Kit from Baygirl by Heather T. Smith, page 98
“Last but not least, The Mad Drunk. Broken dishes and broken hearts. Blushes on faces and bruises on cheeks. Fists that shake and eyes that threaten. Words that swirl in the air like gusts of snow riding on the breeze, never to be caught.” – Kit from Baygirl by Heather T. Smith, page 124
“That was the good thing about Anne-Marie. She’d known from the time we were little. The first time she came to my house, it was obvious that my dad was different. My dad’s weird, I said, in an attempt to explain why he didn’t act like other dads, and she said, It’s because of that stuff in the bottles. It makes you crazy. And I said, My dad is crazy every day.” – conversation between Kit and Anne-Marie from Baygirl by Heather T. Smith, page 160