Teenagers have enough trouble trying to establish an identity in normal circumstances, so you can only imagine the difficulty Chelsea Marchand faces in forging an identity as the daughter of a politician father who requires her to present a certain public persona while he runs for prime minister. Worse yet, Chelsea knows her father is a conniving, corrupt man incapable of showing people who he really is.
Chelsea, 17, is facing more problems than she handle in Dreams Beyond the Shore, the newly released 2016 CODE Burt Award winning Young Adult (YA) novel by Tamika Gibson. When Chelsea meets Kyron, her situation becomes even more complicated.
Dreams Beyond the Shore is a character-driven novel with its fair share of suspense and conflicts. The novel whitewashes nothing as it captures the political bacchanal of Trinidad for a Young Adult (YA) audience. Realistic dialogue propels the story forward and engulfs readers in a web of deceit as Chelsea and Kyron, a boy from the other side of the tracks, forge a friendship and try to navigate their way through life.
So far the Burt Awards have featured a wide variety of well-written books that appeal to Young Adult (YA) readers. The 2016 winner, however, stands out for its ability to present complex notions of politics and self-identity for YA readers. The novel explores identity, family, relationships, political consciousness, political corruption and political posturing. It is a smart, age-appropriate love story that explores how class divisions impact on relationships.
Gibson uses a dual narrator so that Chelsea and Kyron can present their own distinct voices and stories. Determined Chelsea and flirty Kyron are both attracted to each other, but life has taught them to be cautious and suspicious of people. They must navigate their way through a socio-economic divide that sometimes seems insurmountable.
“I not on rich girls at all,” says Kyron. “I…