Summary: Fresh from a fight with his strict and seemingly uncaring father, Cam takes off on his mountain bike for an uphill trek by himself. But when an uncontrolled descent leads to an accident and the loss of his bike, Cam suddenly finds himself in a survival situation. To complicate matters, he stumbles upon a group of teens from India being smuggled across the border into the United States. Samira is one of the teens, and manages to escape her captors after realising their intentions are sinister. Together, Cam and Samira struggle to make it down the mountain alive. The situation turns out to be more complex than they thought though, and the threat to their lives comes not only from surviving the elements but from escaping a conspiracy of pot and meth dealers in Grand Forks, British Columbia.
Number of Pages: 200
Age Range: 12-14
Review: Trouble in the Hills by Helaine Becker is written with such momentum and energy that the pages simply fly by. A convincing story about the unlikeliest of circumstances, Becker portrays Cam and Samira as two relatively level-headed teens who keep their wits about them even when faced with life or death situations.
Cam’s voice is authentic and entertaining. Becker seems to capture the humour and attitudes of a teenage boy completely and I loved reading about him. Samira is a character with a lot of courage in the face of being completely out of her element in a foreign country. I admired what she brought to the story, though I worried for her safety in the end.
Bushcraft is a term I hadn’t heard of before reading Becker’s story, and as a result I was quite impressed that the skills Cam used to keep himself and Samira alive he learned in school. From finding shelter to building and maintaining a fire to knowing the danger of getting caught in the rain, Cam handled himself in a knowledgeable manner. I was caught up in the drama of surviving and fascinated by the details.
But I think my favourite part was Cam’s relationship with his dad. Becker paints it one way, and completely changes her readers opinion in the end. I love when a writer is able to do that.
I’d definitely recommend Trouble in the Hills to an early teen audience, especially reluctant male readers. The plot simply pulses with suspense and drama and is sure to hook readers.
“She shrugged her shoulders. ‘Where I come from, there are animals everywhere. Birds, bats. Bugs. Especially bugs. And I can tell you I’m less afraid of a dead animal than I am of Kavel and Jay. So,’ she said, her voice all business. ‘Shall we check together? Or would you rather I go back in myself to check? I don’t mind.’
Samira’s question ripped nine-inch gash in Cam’s pride.
So much for appearing confident and strong…
‘No,’ he declared. ‘I’ll go. You wait here.'” – Conversation between Samira and Cam from Trouble in the Hills by Helaine Becker, pages 98-99
Eventually, though, their words just ran out. The good ones did, anyway. All they had left between them were dark, frightening ones.
Like: Would they have enough wood?
Like: Were they going to die?
Better to say nothing.” – from Trouble in the Hills by Helaine Becker, page 117