Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) Biography » Jen McVeity Biography - Writings, Sidelights - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards

Jen McVeity - Sidelights

tess shores review family

Jen McVeity is an athlete, a former swimmer and avid skier, an enthusiastic beach volleyball competitor, and a gymnast who enjoys the trapeze and the trampoline. She is also a teacher, an environmentalist, a parent, and an author of children's books that are well received in her native Australia. Some of her literary efforts, including young adult novels On Different Shores and Shadow Seeker, have also attracted the attention of American critics and readers.

On Different Shores introduces Tess Robertson, an Australian teenager contending with universal coming-of-age issues, complicated family dynamics and a need to make a difference in the world. Tess spends weekends with her single mother and the remaining time with her father, stepmother, and half-sister. Her father is a politician whose escalating work responsibilities are distancing him from the daughter with whom he once shared a close relationship. Her two mothers, both sympathetic characters, inspire conflicting loyalties which threaten Tess's peace of mind. Tess seeks her own place in the world by creating a secret environmental group called the Green Guerrillas, partly in rebellion against her politician father, but also out of a need to express her own values and ideals.

Tess and her fellow gang members begin a campaign to stop pollution in the city and save the endangered animals of the sea. When the Guerrillas run afoul of the police, her secret is out; Tess and her family must acknowledge their conflicts and attempt to resolve them. "McVeity capably portrays the family's increasing desperation," wrote Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books contributor Deborah Stevenson. The opportunity for a solution occurs when Tess and the Guerrillas attempt to save a beached whale but find they cannot do it alone. Magpies reviewer Jennifer Poulter called the novel, published in Australia as Dreamcatcher, "a well-crafted story . . . building steadily to a breathlessly paced climax." Booklist reviewer Shelle Rosenfeld deemed On Different Shores an "astute, engaging novel" for "its realistically depicted family dialogues and tensions" and its portrayal of a young woman struggling for balance in an increasingly complicated world.

McVeity reported on her Internet home page that she never intended to write a sequel, but Shadow Seeker follows Tess and the Green Guerrillas on a new adventure. Their primary effort is to prevent the opening of a local paper-making factory, whose manufacturing byproducts would include the toxic chemical dioxin. The Guerrillas construct an Internet Web site from which they can issue e-mail petitions and newsletters (and, in a subtle tactic, avoiding the use of paper), all without revealing their identities. On the home front, Tess's father is running for reelection, and Tess learns that her environmental activism could cost him the election. Will he have to choose between his career and his daughter? This could threaten their relationship, which seemed to be improving after the beached-whale incident. Tess's relationships with the women in her life are in flux as well, as her mother begins dating again and her stepmother begins working harder than ever to include Tess in her combined family. Complicating things even further, at Green Guerrilla headquarters, a new member named Matt could be placing Tess's leadership role in jeopardy. Magpies reviewer Fran Knight noted: "The huge cast of characters is skillfully drawn." She also praised McVeity for her construction of "a stunning and fast paced climax and conclusion."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, November 15, 1998, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of On Different Shores, p. 581.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 1998, Deborah Stevenson, review of On Different Shores, pp. 106-107.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1998, review of On Different Shores, p. 1462.

Kliatt, November, 1998, Claire Rosser, review of On Different Shores, p. 8.

Magpies, May, 1999, Jennifer Poulter, review of Dream-catchers, p. 39; March, 2002, Fran Knight, review of Shadow Seeker, p. 40.

School Library Journal, March, 1999, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of On Different Shores, p. 212.


Jen McVeity Home Page, http://www.highlightingwriting.com/jenmcveity/ (October 1, 2003).

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