Summary: Cheryl has followed her parents from coast to coast across Canada for her father’s job for the past four years, and all she wants is to go home to Montreal. But when her family ends up in Newfoundland so her father can write about the demise of the cod fishing industry, something different happens – she finds a friend and love interest in her neighbour, Jim. A dangerous situation involving Jim’s safety makes Cheryl realise she’s not longing for Montreal in the same way anymore, and when circumstances conspire to give Cheryl the opportunity to go home, she is no longer convinced she wants to take it.
Number of Pages: 331
Age Range: 15-17
Review: What a powerful and insightful book about family and Canada in general. I loved If You Live Like Me‘s heartfelt story about one teen girl’s realisation of the things that matter in life. With skilled, poignant writing, Lori Weber paints a vivid portrait of our country’s hardships and resilient people. Even though I thought Cheryl’s father was somewhat rude and insensitive in his pursuit of knowledge at times, I did feel he had a certain respect for his subjects. Although I’m sure writing his book didn’t win him any friends, and probably made him gain a few enemies.
As for Cheryl, Weber’s portrayal of her journey as a character was sensitive and believable. She really grew into her appreciation of Newfoundland and her love for Jim, as well as the change in attitude she had toward her parents. I loved her voice and observations, as well as her introspective nature.
I particularly enjoyed the scene when Cheryl took Jim to see the whales. I’ve always found whales to be hopeful and incredibly beautiful creatures, and I could easily see how seeing them would restore Jim’s spirit.
But Jim – Jim who struggles against the hard reality of his life to pursue his dreams – he was the character I found to be most inspiring. He helped Cheryl realise what she had, and together they had a relationship that provided support and acceptance.
I was touched, and I loved the details of Jim’s mother’s knitting and Cheryl’s mother’s quilt-making. It feels like all of the characters are trying to sort out their circumstances, and they all do it in their own ways.
It’s a lovely book, and I would recommend it for female teen readers looking for a bit of romance. Weber has a way with words that draws in her reader with incredible imagery and real characters.
“Farther along, Jim asks if I want to stop for a while, so we sit on a bed of grass and ferns and just stare out at the ocean. I feel like I’m perched at the tip of the world, like I could just lean forward and plunk myself off the edge, into the Atlantic.” – Cheryl from If You Live Like Me by Lori Weber, page 46
“I think about how all of Canada, its thousands of miles, lies behind me. I picture the provinces I’ve lived in floating away like ice floes, leaving me blissfully disconnected. I almost feel light and free for the first time in ages, kind of like the birds soaring high above the water.” – Cheryl from If You Live Like Me by Lori Weber, page 47
“‘Yeah, like all fossils. That’s partly why I like ’em. They last forever. They might change a bit over time, but the changes are small and they take millions of years. Nothing else in life is that solid and nothing else on earth can be counted on in such a sure way.'” – Jim from If You Live Like Me by Lori Weber, page 104
“My hand is on fire, where Jim touched it. It’s like I never really felt my hand before. It’s just been there, inconspicuous. If it weren’t so dark in here, I’d be able to see whether his strokes have left marks on my skin.” – Cheryl from If You Live Like Me by Lori Weber, page 116
“I lie here thinking about the fossils, and it strikes me that they are kind of yin and yang too. The rock they’re embedded in is hard, yet they contain something as delicate as those etchings, thin and wispy as silk. Maybe that’s why Jim likes them, because they’re a mixture of so many things – hard and soft, past and present.” – Cheryl from If You Live Like Me by Lori Weber, pages 117-118
“Marilyn Manson blocks out the thoughts in my head, singing about guilt and how it’s something we try to beat, but can’t. It grows inside us, squirming in our bellies, twisting in our guts and making our spines turn to jelly. Touché once again Marilyn.” – Cheryl from If You Live Like Me by Lori Weber, pages 187-188
“I remember what Jim said at the mall about how it was best not to play the game and provoke them, that that was what they wanted. That day, when these jerks were teasing Jim, I could feel him draw on some rock-solid place inside himself that helped him stay proud. They didn’t crack him at all, even though they were trying just as hard as they are right now.” – Cheryl from If You Live Like Me by Lori Weber, page 194
“If there’s no way inside, you might as well put yourself on the outside – on purpose. And pretend that’s where you wanted to be in the first place.” – Cheryl from If You Live Like Me by Lori Weber, page 215
“But I can’t cry in front of my father. It’s not that my eyeliner will run, because I’m not wearing any. It’s just something he hasn’t seen me do in years. I’m like the very tip of an iceberg in front of my parents. They only see the ten percent above the water. The other ninety I save for when I’m in my room, listening to my music.” – Cheryl from If You Live Like Me by Lori Weber, page 288
“‘I’m talking about making a commitment to someone, or to something, to being where you are instead of where you aren’t. I’ve had to learn to do that too. It’s not such a bad thing. You might want to try it sometime.'” – Jim from If You Live Like Me by Lori Weber, page 294
“I never thought I’d say it, but my dad’s kind of right. It’s not a place itself or even what’s in it that makes it what it is. It’s the people and what they do with it. He says discovering what that is is at the heart of anthropology.” – Cheryl from If You Live Like Me by Lori Weber, page 297