Shayna's Shadows

Shayna's Shadows by Paul Philip Brown

Calling people names:

Is it harmless fun?

Or is it a dangerous first step towards bigotry?

Shayna's arrival at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Junior High School begins well until her Jewishness attracts the wrong kind of attention. Gilbert and his friends seem to be lurking everywhere, and it doesn't look as though they'll ever leave her alone.

From Yorkdale Shopping Centre to the underground city beneath Toronto, from SkyDome to the Young People's Theatre, Shayna struggles to find the courage to confront her tormentors before their hurtful prejudices overwhelm her.

Union Station

Sample Chapter

They'd called it a stereotype -- a common picture that people have about a particular group, a picture that was based on ignorance or gossip, or sometimes an unpleasant experience with one member of that group. Jews were often stereotyped as money hungry and clannish, they'd learned. She remembered thinking how she wished her own family would have fit the mold, at least the part about being wealthy, but her dad's income as an office manager did not qualify them to entertain the mayor at dinner, that was for sure.

"I'm from another part of town," said Shayna. "What difference does it make where I'm from, anyway?"

Shayna hadn't meant it to come out so harshly. She was trying to keep her head above water. Why did she have the feeling she was drowning? This was supposed to be a new start.

Darla sneered. "You must be a rich Jew from Solomon who's afraid we'll find out, but your nose gives you away. I would be too if I were you. Why don't you go back to Jewschool where you came from? While you're at it, you can take all your fellow Jew bums with you."

Shayna's forehead began to glisten. She could feel the moisture under her arms. Soon there would be large stains forming on her top. Shayna felt trapped. Her first period at Trudeau hadn't even begun, and the roof seemed to be caving in.

Without thinking, Shayna closed her hand into a fist and, swinging up and over in a lightning-swift motion, returned Darla Williams' greeting with one of her own, right between the eyes.