Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Jakeman by Deborah Ellis

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Jakeman by Deborah Ellis

Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2007

Jake and his sister Shoshona have been under foster care since their single mother was arrested for possession and trafficking three years before. Both have found their own ways to cope: Shoshona has become a bossy mother figure; Jake, who is a budding comic book artist, has created an alter ego named Jakeman. And unbeknownst to his sister, Jake continues his one-man letter-writing campaign to the Governor, pleading for clemency for their mom.

Along with an assortment of nervous, angry, and damaged kids, Jake and Shoshona take a community-provided school bus four times a year on the long overnight journey through New York State to visit their mother in jail.

This time will be like no other trip they've ever taken. Their adult chaperones contract food poisoning on the way back and must be dropped off at a hospital. And their driver, refusing to wait for another adult to replace their chaperones, sets off again with only the kids and a hidden bottle of booze in tow. In no time they are off the main highway and lost. And their driver, now staggering drunk, abandons the kids and walks off, leaving them in the middle of nowhere.

Angry and sick to death of a system that has deserted them at every turn, Shoshana takes the wheel. And through a series of crazy side trips, Jake and the others hatch a plan to visit the Governor's mother. And when the old lady sees that her son has dismissed Jake's appeals and refused to even reply, she helps them face off with the Governor himself. Jake and the others find themselves at a photo opportunity that ends in tragedy even as it gives the long-abandoned kids a forum to be heard at long last.

Awards and nominations:

  • Nominee, Diamond Willow Award (2008)
  • Shortlist, Silver Birch Fiction (2007)
  • Longlist, CLA Children's Book of the Year Award (2008)

From the catalogue. Read more about Jakeman at the Fitzhenry & Whiteside website.