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Children's Fiction Caribbean & Latin America

Not a Chance

by (author) Michelle Mulder

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Mar 2013
Caribbean & Latin America, Prejudice & Racism, Friendship
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2013
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


Dian has been coming to the Dominican Republic with her doctor parents for years. Now that she's thirteen, she had wanted to stay home in Canada, but instead she is helping her parents set up their clinic and looking forward to hanging out with her Dominican friend Aracely. When fourteen-year-old Aracely makes a shocking announcement—she is engaged to be married—Dian struggles to accept that Aracely has the right to choose her own destiny, even if it is very different from what Dian would choose for her.

About the author

Michelle is the author of several books for children, and she enjoys telling the stories of kids who seize life's opportunities. When growing up in Port Moody, British Columbia, her favourite spot was the library. She loved cracking open the cover of a novel, taking a deep breath, and jumping into another life.

At university, Michelle studied literature, and between courses, she helped dig a water pipeline in the Dominican Republic and flipped burgers for a summer at a McDonald's in Germany. After graduating, she cycled 6000 kilometres across Canada, became a travel writer, taught creative writing in the Arctic, and worked as a simulated patient for medical students to practice on. She also married the pen pal that she'd been writing to since she was fourteen years old, and together they traveled around his home country of Argentina.

Michelle began writing for kids because she's always loved reading children's books. These days, when she's not writing or going on adventures, she enjoys reading, swimming, baking, hiking, and pedaling her bicycle around Victoria, British Columbia, where she lives with her husband and daughter. For more information about Michelle and her books, please visit her website at


Michelle Mulder's profile page


  • Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Award nominee
  • Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Book Awards
  • Commended, Ontario Library association (OLA) Best Bets
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens
  • Commended, OLA Best Bets

Editorial Reviews

"Explores the contrasts between traditional island-culture mores and Western ideals...The story moves swiftly with animated writing and plenty of dialogue. Readers will empathize with Dian...[and] the Dominican characters are likewise complex...Cultural details and Spanish words are incorporated into the text. Complicated issues, including children’s rights, Western ethnocentrism, and racism, are all illuminated in this story of cross-cultural friendship and respect. Readers will grow in understanding, along with Dian, who concludes, 'It’s about balancing the dancing with the doing.'"

School Library Journal

"There is an authenticity to Dian, caught in a web of moral dilemmas and attempting to navigate between the rigid cultural dictates of the village and the equally rigid viewpoints of her parents...Readers will empathize with Dian as she struggles to find her own voice and her own path towards social justice...Dian claims a different course than her parents and her actions may encourage readers to make change in the world themselves...Mulder has delivered a provocative book which will challenge young readers at home or in the classroom, giving vivid insight into complex cultural challenges we all must face in a global world."

Canadian Children's Book News

"Readers will be challenged to look beyond truths born of cultural conditioning, as both Dian and Aracely struggle to understand one another. The conflict between Dian and her parents is believable...Mulder demonstrates her knowledge of remote village life in her depictions of poverty, spirituality, and conformity...Because the issues are so contemporary, it is the perfect multicultural novel."


"A fine novel about clashing cultures. Dian's direct narration clearly establishes the complexity of life in Cucubano, and underlines the double-edged choices every character faces...'It would do us all good to quit trying to fix the world and actually enjoy it for once,' Dian tells her parents at one point. Mulder's thoughtful, engaging novel manages to do both."

The National Post

"The Dominican village in which the novel is rooted is well realized, and the characters do not feel one-dimensional. well characterized and relatable. Not a Chance is a well-written and engaging novel."

CM Magazine

[Starred review] "Mulder's spare prose neither makes light of a delicate issue nor paints it with a broad brush. Quietly perceptive and provocative."

Kirkus Reviews

"Dian’s struggle with cultural differences makes for interesting reading...A quick read that may inspire some readers to reflect upon what Dian learns and apply it to their own lives."

Library Media Connection

"Mulder's provocative tale about a cultural clash avoids heavy didacticism with lively dialogue and carefully nuanced behavior for each of the believable characters. Readers will feel for Dian as she tries to establish her identity, engage her overbearingly politically correct parents, and begin a friendship with a Haitian boy that provokes a racist response from the community. It's a lot of growing up for one summer, but this engaging story intelligently takes on the matter of haves and have-nots."


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