Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Spirit Level

Publish May 19, 2016

In Sarah N. Harvey’s Spirit Level, Harry Jacobs’ decision to track down her siblings begins a life-changing journey through the many, varied iterations of her family. Harry Jacobs has never been interested in tracking down her biological father. A donor-conceived child, Harry was always content with her mother and unofficially adopted grandmother, Verna. When Harry’s boyfriend moves to New York and her best friend takes off for Paris, Harry suddenly realizes just how small her world is. Lonely and bereft, level-headed Harry impulsively posts an ad on the Donor Sibling Registry, and her family explodes overnight with the addition of three half-brothers and two half-sisters, all conceived from the same donor-father. And although her energetic half-sister Lucy is charming, Harry’s other half-sister, Meredith, is decidedly less appealing. Meredith’s quest to find their donor-father borders on obsession, and the details she reveals about herself are sketchy and inconsistent. To complicate matters, Harry feels a strong attraction to Meredith’s best friend, Alex, despite the mysterious debt that places him at Meredith’s mercy. Harry knows she can never return to the comfortable stability she once knew, but she isn’t sure her new family is worth the upheaval. An engrossing soap opera for the millennial reader, Spirit Level tackles GLBTQ issues, donor-conception, mental illness and homelessness with a light touch and subtle humour. Harvey deftly navigates the lives of her characters, giving them voices and dignity. She condenses their stories into easily digestible bites that explore the connections and their complications without losing the reader amid a tangle of names and relationships. A myriad of unconventional scenarios intricately woven with opposing perspectives transforms Spirit Level from a typical teen romance into a thought-provoking and refreshing little novel.

Spirit Level

Sarah N. Harvey
Orca Book Publishers
ISBN 13: 978-1-4598-0816-4

Karen Doerksen
Karen Doerksen Karen Doerksen lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta with her husband and four children. She works for the Edmonton Public Library, and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta.  

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