What’s in it for Me?
What’s in it for Me?
I’m not proud of what happened next, and my memory is a little fuzzy because of all the fear adrenaline pumping through my body. All I remember is that Chumba charged and someone screamed like those women in horror movies – which I realized was me – and I ran. I’d like to say that I ran and stood in front of Camila like a hero to protect her from the charging elephant (that would have made Trevor proud of me). But that didn’t happen.
With summer vacation approaching, 15-year-old Nick Bannerman has quite different plans than his best friend Trevor. Nick’s plans include scoring a deal for their metal band, partying and surfing in Tofino. Trevor wants to travel to Africa to volunteer to build a school. After attending a changemaker organization presentation at the school, both friends find themselves heading to unknown adventures. Nick enters his name into the lottery to go to Kenya when he hears that Sheena, a cute new girl in school whose father happens to be a music executive, is going. The story takes an unusual twist that finds Trevor heading off to Kenya and Nick off to Thailand with a volunteer church youth group. Another plot twist finds Nick volunteering at an elephant refuge with Camila, a 16- year-old local girl. And then the story really begins.
Author L S Stone’s first novel, What’s in it for Me?, contains those elements of a captivating story that not only make it fun and exciting to read but leaves the reader thinking about it afterwards. Stone provides an interesting variety of characters with traits and personalities the young adult reader can relate to. The characterizations add humour and drama to the story. The duo voice storytelling, with the insertion of text messages between Nick and Trevor, adds interest and different perspectives. The author’s knowledge of global and social issues particularly involving elephant sanctuaries is presented in a manner that encourages the reader to become more informed about them.
Young adult readers will be quickly drawn into this exciting adventure. Starting at the fourth chapter, the narrative alternates between Trevor’s and Nick’s voice. This device allows readers to experience different aspects of global and social activism, animal welfare, volunteerism and leadership training. While helping to build a school in Kenya, Trevor encounters the problems of contaminated drinking water, extreme poverty, lack of education opportunities and child soldiers. In Thailand, Nick is faced not only with the demands of hard work at the elephant refuge but also encounters with an animal rights activist and rampaging elephants. The book’s title, What’s in it for ME? (emphasis added) captures how powerful a firsthand experience can be in a person’s life.
What’s in it for Me? is an entertaining and captivating book for young adults. The combination of readers’ sitting on the edge of their seats and smiling at the humourous antics of the characters keeps the momentum of the story. Finally, the vivid depiction of the elephants is fascinating.
Janice Foster is a retired teacher and teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.