In this fast-paced, on-the-road young adult novel, Norma Charles once again manages to include provocative social issues in an adventure story that will appeal to children from age twelve and up. Charles takes on the issue of young girls being forced to marry older men in polygamist religious communities. She also explores the issues surrounding mixed-race families. Fifteen-year-old Jacob Armstrong is disgruntled that his mother has decided that the whole family must accompany his sister, Minerva, to her new university on a road trip all the way from Vancouver to Winnipeg. The only saving grace is that he and Minerva get to drive in a peppy little Mini, away from the rest of the embarrassingly crazy family in the family van - which includes their step-father, Fred Finkle, and his two sons, Barney, a stand up comedian-wanna-be, and Sam, an eleven-year-old dinosaur expert. But before they leave BC, Minerva and Jacob are shocked to discover a stowaway in the backseat of their Mini. It's a girl dressed in old-fashioned clothes and desperate to escape from her home and get to Winnipeg. She begs the siblings not only to take her with them, but asks them to keep her presence in the backseat a secret. Where, they ask, has she come from? Why is she so desperate to escape? And just who is after her? And why? The Girl in the Backseat is a novel that takes you on an urgent journey across the prairies where Jacob uncovers some uncomfortable truths about himself and his attitude towards people who are different. It also explores how tolerance, understanding and a positive sense of self-worth can grow and develop from unexpected encounters.
Norma Charles is the author of many books for children including the Moonbeam Bronze Medal Award winner The Girl in the Backseat, and the Chocolate Lily Award winner All the Way to Mexico. Norma now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.