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Jailbird Kid by Shirlee Smith Matheson

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Jailbird Kid by Shirlee Matheson

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Angela Wroboski has recently moved with her mother from their small hometown into the city to rid them of a dark past. Now, Angela must deal with the fact that her home will be anything but “normal.”

Her dad, the infamous Nick “The Weasel” Wroboski, has served three jail terms for various crimes, including robbery, during her lifetime, and on June 5, Angela’s fifteenth birthday, he’s released from a two-year sentence in Fort Gavin Prison.

Arriving home with an attitude and attire that’s sure to mess up her friendships and future, The Weasel tries in his own way to prove that this time he’s going straight. But the influence of the old gang, led by notorious Uncle Al who’s now operating an enigmatic “business” that’s more than a little shady, remains a constant threat to Nick’s future as a family man.

When Angela learns that a crime is being planned that could blow apart her family, she must quickly decide how to intervene without breaking her father’s code to “never discuss family business outside the home.”

Author’s Note

I first developed this story as a stage play with the mother, Connie, as the protagonist. Although the play received several notable workshops through Theatre Calgary, followed by encouraging reports from several theatres, and actually came very close to being produced, for various reasons the work did not see the stage. When I was encouraged to turn it into a novel, I considered the validity of that idea, and then thought, ‘Why not write it from the point of view of Angela, the daughter?’ And so I did.

Changing the point of view to the daughter Angela, who in the book turns 15 the day her father is released from prison, caused me to consider how important it is for children of any age to want their home scene to be “normal” – but what is normal? And how does one deal with it when it is not?

Readers might ask “What would I do if I were in Angela’s position?” She was stuck between being embarrassed about her father and his past, to wanting to hold their home together. Their family motto, which is common in many homes where there are dark secrets, is “Never discuss family business outside the home” so when she discovers that her father is again coming under the influence of bandits, she can’t go to the police, or say anything to anybody! She, at the age of 15, is faced with a bunch of tough choices and she HAS to make the right one!

The theme, “Per ardua ad astra” means, “Through adversity to the stars” and offers encouragement to readers who might be experiencing adversity in their own lives. Fear of how a personal situation might turn out is a common concern in most people’s lives at various times – and this expression is meant to bring hope that readers, whatever their distress, will also be find a way to “reach the stars”.

About the Author

Shirlee Smith Matheson has lived in all four Western provinces, and presently makes her home in Calgary.

Her nonfiction books bring to life stories of real Canadians – pilots and priests, explorers and engineers, bushmen and prospectors.

Her historical teen novels reflect the excitement of phenomenal journeys and major Canadian missions, and introduce readers to very odd places that really existed once upon a time. Her contemporary teen novels are guaranteed to excite young readers everywhere.

Reader Comments

~ I just finished reading your Jailbird Kid and I think it is your best writing yet! I’m wondering how you do your research for this kind of story (and also Fastback Beach, where the kids broke into and drove away with someone else’s car)! Who do you hang around with?! I hope lots of kids are discovering your young adult stories and I hope you have many more to come.

Read an INTERVIEW with Shirlee Smith Matheson

Visit Shirlee’s  WEBSITE


Jailbird Kid by Shirlee Smith Matheson
ISBN: 9781554887040, 167 pages, Retail $12.99 Can.; $10.99 US; ₤7.99
Publisher: Dundurn Press, Toronto, 2010.

Short URL: http://www.bookclubbuddy.com/?p=4552

2 Comments for “Jailbird Kid by Shirlee Smith Matheson”

  1. Debbie Hickmon

    I would love to win this book.

Comments are closed

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