This spring, I had the opportunity to beta-read a novel for Calgary author P.D. Workman, who writes stories in the YA genre. Since she has just released it, I get to share it with you at last!
In a genre dominated by kick-ass heroines in post-apocalyptic dystopian worlds, wizards and magical realism, Ms. Workman is carving out her own niche. Her books show us real kids facing scary real-life problems in the modern world. Her work is both an invitation to empathy and a cautionary tale—there but for the grace of God go we all.
In Endless Change, Parker is a fourteen-year-old boy with a compassionate heart and heavy responsibilities—helping his single mom care for a passel of younger siblings. But he bears the load willingly, even planning his future career path to allow him to help the family as long as necessary. He has a passion for helping, especially injured animals that he comes across. If he sees a need that he can fill, he does.
One day on his way to school, he meets Dakota Phillips, a young woman he finds looking in the garbage for food. She reminds him of an injured bird, with her feathery pink hair and desperate eyes. Feeling compelled to help her, he has soon arranged to have her enrolled in his school and has even found her a place to stay.
Dakota’s vulnerable and bubbly personality soon have Parker falling for her, hard. She does have a tendency to lie and to shirk all responsibility, but with her background of foster homes and abusive dads, Parker thinks he understands why. He likes her, and doesn’t care what she’s been through before as long as he can help her now.
Unfortunately, Dakota is not all that she seems to be, and soon Parker is caught up in a legal investigation that he is sure is all based on a misunderstanding. He struggles to fulfill his self-appointed responsibilities while trying to negotiate adult problems in a child’s body.
This coming-of-age novel deals with love, responsibility, and the question of growing up. Ms. Workman’s portrayal of Parker—a child on the brink of manhood—is compassionate, well-wrought, and sympathetic. Her tone is never judgmental or preachy as she shows us how everyone involved is only trying to do their best with what they have—even if they have different ideas of what the solutions should be.
The next time one hears of a case like this on the news and wonders “how on earth would that ever happen?”, perhaps there will be a second thought—that he may have just been a good kid trying to do the right thing who got involved with someone confounded by the intricacies of adulting. After all, as we all know—growing up is hard to do.