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The Blue Helmet by William Bell
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The Blue Helmet

by William Bell

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William Bell has won numerous awards, including the Canadian Library Association Award, the Manitoba Readers' Choice Award and the Mr. Christie's Book Award. He has written eleven previous YA novels. Books In Canada calls him "one of the most wide-ranging and reliable of Canadian authors." So why then is this novel, a White Pine Award nominee, so flat, predictable, didactic and unsatisfying? It seems to have begun with a theme, rather than character, plot or image. "War is bad; peacekeeping is good," we can see Mr. Bell jotting down. So the enigmatic Cutter witnesses the horrors of the Serbian-Bosnian war and ethnic cleansing, turns pacifist and peacemaker, eventually cannot live with himself and what he has seen. Lee, the troubled young man protagonist of the novel, comes to grow to maturity through living with his salt-of-the-earth aunt and getting to know Cutter. But all of the characters are cardboard cutouts. Towards the end we are hit with heavy Heart of Darkness comparisons. And Lee learns that he has "to face the war inside [him]self before [he] could find peace". (164) Ho-hum. ( )
  polutropos | Apr 21, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385662467, Hardcover)

Lee wants to be a Tarantula – a member of the biggest, most powerful gang in his neighbourhood. But when his initiation goes wrong and the police catch him robbing an auto supply store, Lee’s father sends him to live with his aunt in New Toronto.

Lee feels more lost than ever. His mother’s death from cancer, and his father’s constant absence working two jobs mean he has practically had to raise himself. But though he initially resists his Aunt Reena and the customers of Reena’s Unique Café – a ragtag collection of the unusual, the unkempt and the deeply eccentric – Lee gradually learns to open himself up to his new surroundings. When Lee strikes up an unlikely friendship he is suddenly confronted by the ravages of violence, and is forced to face the consequences of his own aggression.

The Blue Helmet is a powerful portrait of one young man’s struggle to come into his own, and the peace that comes from the achievement.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:16 -0400)

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Lee's father sends him to live with his aunt in New Toronto after Lee tries to rob a store during a gang initiation.

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