Book Review: BIG AIR
By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)
Jax is a talented young First Nations snowboarder who is attending the Podium Sports Academy. Destined to be successful and a star in the making, Jax has it made living in Calgary, and doing what he loves.
Jax loves his billeting family, the Marinos. They treat him well, encourage him and support him in every way they can, but even living with them doesn’t let him escape the problems he faced back home in Montreal with his older brother Mark.
Mark is an addict, and not thinking about anything other than making some cash from his younger brother, he steals money from their dad and sister and makes his way to Calgary. After Jax has a small get together with his friends, Mark’s friends show up at the door flashing knives and say “We heard there’s a party here.”
Jax and his fellow billeting friend Rob manage to deter Mark’s friends from coming in, but they come back later when everyone is gone. Things go awry very quickly when Jax’s brother and his friends come back later. They smash windows in the house Jax and Rob are staying at, steal from the family and Rob is seriously injured when he finds that Mark is trying to take their snowboards. He tries to confront Mark, but is knocked out and ends up in the hospital for several days in a coma.
Jax is torn between family loyalty towards his brother Mark and what happened when the police question him about how the robbery unfolded. At first he lies and says he doesn’t know who attacked Rob, even though he saw the whole attack and knows in his heart he should report his brother.
It isn’t until after a rather zealous and racist police officer talks to him and tells him “You know kid, I wish I could believe you but something isn’t adding up for me. You people think you can do whatever you want and get away with it. You’re given way too much. Why do I have to pay for my daughter’s education and you get it for free.” And here’s a little story for you. A kid just like you killed my cousin up north on the rigs. You can’t get away with everything. We’ll catch them, all of them and that means you,” and seeing his friend Rob in the hospital, that he contacts the police and does the right thing by telling them what really happened.
Even though he tells the police everything, trouble ensues when the same police officer that questioned him in the first place decides that Jax is guilty of the robbery at the Marino family home and the attack on his friend.
Jax spends a night in jail, while his family from Montreal and his billeting family stand behind him in making sure that he is cleared of the false charges.
Jax has to make the difficult decision of letting his brother finally stand accountable for his actions and sees him go to jail. Despite all this, Jax hopes for the best for his brother and after his friend Rob gets out of the hospital, and asks him, “You think he’ll stay clean when he gets out?”
Jax says “I hope so,” He’s my brother. My family.”
The Podium Sports Academy series by Lorna Schultz Nicholson follows the lives of superjocks at an elite high school as they train for a future in pro sports. Visit www.lorimer.ca for details on the Podium Series.
Big Air is 142 pages long and is published by James Lorimer and Company Ltd. It sells for $9.95 and is perfect for young readers who are 13+. ISBN-10:1-4594-0531-5