There aren't many novels that connect a commercial American style and the special qualities of a Canadian region, but Kevin Major's first book, Hold Fast …, does just that. It brings together the current mode of "young adult" novel as developed in the United States and the longings of Newfoundlanders for their past. In this sense it's a unique product of recent Canadian literature….
Newfoundlanders realize that, spiritually, all that they possess is the tradition their ancestors left them: the tradition of the intimate and isolated fishing villages, the seal hunt, the special language that is so different from the English most of us speak. At the same time, they know that forces they can't control (including forces within themselves) are drawing them away from that tradition, into urbanization and a closer contact with mainland Canada.
This is an odd subject for a juvenile novel, but it is one of the subjects of Hold Fast. Major's hero and narrator, Michael, is a fourteen-year-old outport boy whose parents die in an automobile accident. As a result he must leave his outport and move to a "big" (in Newfoundland terms) city, which is almost as drastic a step for an outport boy as moving to Toronto. There he finds himself repressed by both a tyrannical uncle and a school system that has no real place for him. Major stresses the contrasts between the authenticity of outport life—its close relation to...
(The entire section is 441 words.)