Author: Natalie Hyde
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
The opening line of Natalie Hyde’s latest title – also a contender for the 2018/19 Red Cedar Book Prize – is sure to grab the attention of young readers: “Moose snot is a real thing, you know.” From there, Chris Dearing (who hates his name) takes us back in time to explain how he ended up in the middle of the Yukon trying to make a gold claim on land swindled from his grandfather decades before Chris was born.
The opening line is not the only clever use of words in Mine! There’s a play on “the muffin man” rhyme that comes late in the novel and made me wonder if I’d missed out on more along the way. The focus on Chris and his family’s BAD luck gets a little tedious at times but all in all, this is a wild ride filled with whacky characters.
For starters, there’s Chris’s dad who’s an alcoholic making bad choices in addition to his bad luck. With social services breathing down their necks, his dad ends up in jail and Chris is left seeking help from Fiona who owns the bar his dad most frequently visited. As luck would have it (and Chris actually has a lot of GOOD luck, regardless of what he thinks), Fiona is also from the Yukon and agrees to take Chris up there when she learns about his grandfather’s lost claim. When her motorcycle breaks down, Chris is lucky enough to get saved by his best friend and her uncle, who just happens to have a mobile muffin selling business. They accompany Chris and Fiona all the way to the Yukon where more unbelievable (but highly entertaining) events unfold.
As is often the case, one of my sons loved this book and one didn’t (proving just how subjective this book business is). The one who didn’t found it too unrealistic and convoluted. For me, it was a quick read and putting the rational side of my brain on pause, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the trip North with Chris and his friends.