Online Reviews - 250 Hours

Reviewed by: Various Online Reviewers

Goodreads Reviews:

"I enjoyed reading this book. My favourite part was how the author integrated a sad part of Canada’s history into the story line. It showed how new generations are reacting to the disgrace of residential schools and how those directly affected by the schools are trying to move forward. It handles the disturbing details of the residential schools in a sophisticated manner – not giving too many details to upset a younger teenager but it still gives the impression that a lot went on behind closed doors.

The part that I didn’t like was Sara Jean’s description of her Gam. She focused a lot on her obesity in graphic detail. I would like to think that Sara Jean saw her grandmother for more than just her disability but also for the love that her Gam provided her throughout her life – even if there were some mistakes along the way. I found some of the descriptions very triggering and I would hope that someone’s family would not judge them on their weight as much as Sara Jean.

Nevertheless, 250 hours was a well written book that explored the lives and the relationships of the two teenagers. It was interesting and grabbed my attention in the first chapter. It kept a nice pace to keep the audience interested. The main characters were well developed. It was easy to read making it ideal for a younger teenage audience. The material that is covered is specifically Canadian and appropriate for the time with all of the attention given to the abuse that the First Nations communities faced with residential schools." - Stephanie

"When Jess, an arsonist, is forced to do 250 hours of community service partly at the house of Sara Jean's grandmother, the two teens seem to have little in common. After all, he lives with his mother and spends much of his time with his grandmother on the reservation with his grandmother while she lives in the nearby town of Edelburg with her morbidly obese grandmother. She's dating Rich, the scion of one of the more affluent men in town. As it turns out, Jess and Sara Jean have a lot more in common that their love for their grandmothers or their pain over being abandoned by a parent. Both have secrets and are trying to figure out what they want to do next. Although Jess thinks he might need to leave the reservation to find himself, he isn't sure, and Sara Jean isn't sure how she can leave her grandmother behind. While the friendship and hints of unrequited love between the two is interesting enough, what was most interesting about the story was the link between her grandfather and the boarding school where he worked briefly. The horrors of that school and the treatment of the students there are described briefly and compellingly by Jess's father. While I enjoyed parts of the book, it ended too abruptly for my taste, and I found it hard to accept the generic nature of Jess's cultural identity. Exactly which tribe was he affiliated with? It was hard to tell, other than by location. The book tries to tackle a lot of important topics, which need to be highlighted, but sometimes they were handled fairly superficially." - Barbara

"I only had one copy to give away, sadly, but it has gone to a good home. This is a truly remarkable story in its complex portrayal of the currents that run under the superficial simplicity of small-town life. I was raised in small town BC, not Manitoba, but I recognize so much of Sara Jean's life: the desire to become what you know you can be, the resentment of that which holds you back... even if it is the grandmother you love. Add to this the issue of the residential school system and its affect on her new friend Jesse ("it's complicated"...), and the plot-lines swirl around one another to tell a balanced, poignant tale of growing up and moving on. Or not." - Karyn Huenemann

"This was a good book, for being under 200 pages. I like the characters and the story was ok." - Jessica Christian

"What a page turner! Great writing and engaging characters on a timely topic. Favorite line: 'A fluorescent light flickered, the tube buzzing with strangled energy.' (p.82)" - Gabriele Goldstone

 

I enjoyed reading this book. My favourite part was how the author integrated a sad part of Canada’s history into the story line. It showed how new generations are reacting to the disgrace of residential schools and how those directly affected by the schools are trying to move forward. It handles the disturbing details of the residential schools in a sophisticated manner – not giving too many details to upset a younger teenager but it still gives the impression that a lot went on behind closed doors.

The part that I didn’t like was Sara Jean’s description of her Gam. She focused a lot on her obesity in graphic detail. I would like to think that Sara Jean saw her grandmother for more than just her disability but also for the love that her Gam provided her throughout her life – even if there were some mistakes along the way. I found some of the descriptions very triggering and I would hope that someone’s family would not judge them on their weight as much as Sara Jean.


Nevertheless, 250 hours was a well written book that explored the lives and the relationships of the two teenagers. It was interesting and grabbed my attention in the first chapter. It kept a nice pace to keep the audience interested. The main characters were well developed. It was easy to read making it ideal for a younger teenage audience. The material that is covered is specifically Canadian and appropriate for the time with all of the attention given to the abuse that the First Nations communities faced with residential schools.

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