Summary: In the year after a hit and run accident that leaves Teresa paralysed from the waist down, she finds herself trying to regain her sense of self in the face of her new limitations. Feeling most in control and independent in the water, swimming and kayaking, it’s no surprise her confidence there leads her to meet not one but two potential summer loves. One is older, and the other has a nasty ex-girlfriend determined to make Teresa’s life miserable. Through her experiences juggling two relationships, Teresa’s confidence grows, revealing that though the accident may have injured her legs, it has only temporarily damped her spirit.
Number of Pages: 190
Age Range: 12-13
Review: It might sound odd, but my favourite part of The Kayak by Debbie Spring was Kat, the bully of the story. Her persistence in making Teresa feel excluded and jealous was actually heartening to me, because it meant she saw Teresa as equal, and perfectly capable of attracting Jamie though she was in a wheelchair. I also loved that Teresa gave as good as she got, although when they ended up becoming friends, I was a bit surprised.
I liked Teresa as a character because she felt genuine to me. She wasn’t a saint and she made mistakes, but her confidence and quick thinking as well as adaptability made her a character I wanted to read about. The use of a wheelchair was just something she needed to get around, not something that defined her.
I had hoped for more depth, especially when Teresa begins to remember the accident in detail and finds out who was driving the car, but it’s a lighter read geared more toward pre and early teens. With the outdoor activities of swimming, kayaking and camping, as well as the romance aspect, it’s a summer-read type of pick.
“This is my special place. Out here, I feel safe and secure. My parents watch from the shore even though I wear my life jacket and emergency whistle. I am one with the kayak. The blue boat is an extension of my legs. I can do anything; I can go anywhere. Totally independent. Totally in control of my life. It’s so different back at shore.” – Teresa from The Kayak by Debbie Spring, page 7
“There’s something magical about the water. All my troubles disappear. It’s so invigorating; I can stay in for hours relishing the feeling of weightlessness. It’s not until I start to shiver that I decide to get out. Karen loves that I last so long because she’s a kid and kids can play forever, oblivious to the cold.” – Teresa from The Kayak by Debbie Spring, page 33