Work Title: Bifocal
Work Author(s): Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
282 pages, Hardcover $17.95
Reviewer: Heather Shaw
Is it a longing for order, ethnic magnetism, or adolescent xenophobia that makes high school lunchrooms such showcases for segregation---or is that "niche societies? At Bifocal's Central Secondary, a high school in an unnamed Canadian metropolis, there's a section for the kids from India, Pakistan, and the Middle East called Brown Town. There's a place over by the doors, nearly outside, for the Goths and "emos," who are "sort of diet-Goth." The black kids sit in Cafrica near the Asian kids who dress like blacks and are called Jackie Chans. Of course, as anyone who went to high school knows, the jocks sit nearest the food and the pretty, popular girls sit where the jocks can see them.
The authors' strategy for creating this book about bigotry and fear is ingenious: the text is written by two people, alternating the points of view of two different characters. Eric Walters, a social worker and coach with forty-six books to his name, writes from the perspective of a white athlete, Jay, a rising football star being groomed for the position of captain in his senior year. The book opens with Jay and other teammates climbing through a ceiling to get some perspective on a "lockdown" situation at the school. From their...