Thursday, December 6, 2007

THE FINNISH LINE by Linda Gerber

THE FINNISH LINE is the second in the S.A.S.S. series by Linda Gerber. This series does not have the same characters every book, so you don't need to worry about reading out of order. What binds these books together is they're all about girls taking part in the Students Across the Seven Seas exchange program. The first one, NOW AND ZEN, was set in Japan. This one is set in Finland.


Mo (short for Maureen) comes from a high-falootin skiing family in Utah. Her dad is a famous champion. Olympic medals are a home decorating motif. As the youngest of this large family, she has no identity of her own and she's had enough. By going on a student exchange program to Finland, she hopes to get away from her father's fame and what she feels is over-involvement in her life. He even coaches her coach!


Mo is nuts about skiing too and she's decided the best way to earn her own name in the sport is by breaking down the barriers which still keep women from competing in ski-jumping with the same rights and accolades as the men. She settles into life in Finland as an exchange student living with a host family. Her host "sister," Kirsti, is cold as ice to her. She has a guide at school who's outgoing enough to be put on Ritilin if she was American. And then there are the boys. Tapio is like a Viking prince and his charm doesn't score points with Mo. But, "bad boy" Leevi does. And he's a fabulous ski-jumper too.


Mo doesn't progress so well in her ski-jumping. The plot starts twisting like crazy when Leevi offers to help her do better if she'll arrange for him to get some publicity through her famous father. He thinks it will look good on his resume when he starts applying to American universities. At first, she's seriously annoyed. The fact that Leevi is so darkly cute only adds to her upset. But, then, she finds out she has something painfully in common with Leevi. Will she set aside her aversion to accepting help from a member of the male gender to attain skiing greatness?


I could relate a lot to this story. Finland is up there around the Arctic Circle just like Alaska. I know what the biting cold is like and it gets dark around three in the afternoon in the winter here too. And, well, you can imagine how popular skiing is here! Linda really did her homework with the skiing. You can feel the powder hit your nose. Linda does a great job conveying Finnish culture too. I love stories which explore different cultures.


Linda makes the teen experience real without falling into cliches and stereotypes. She does the parent/teen relationship well too. While Mo resents her father's over-involvement in her life, Kirsti relates how her father doesn't even notice she's there unless she wins something. "I'm not a child. I'm an investment," says Kirsti. There are all kinds of parents out there and just as many different kinds of teens who must relate to them.


The S.A.S.S. series is a great one to give for the holidays. There's even a dogsled team on the cover of FINNISH LINE!


Stacy~ said...

Wow this sounds interesting. I've been to Finland - my relatives are from there. I think I'll have to check this one out. Great review :)

Kimber An said...

Thanks, Stacy. It's definitely for the Keeper Shelf!

Ms. Yingling said...

Linda visited my school, and the reason that the details about Finland are so good is that she lived there with her family. She is so enthusiastic, and the students enjoyed both her and her work.

Kimber An said...

Thanks for visiting, Ms. Yingling.

Linda is such a sweetheart. I really love learning about other cultures and history, so when an author doesn't do sufficient research it really disappoints me. Linda NEVER disappoints! I really appreciated the work she put into this story. It made me want to visit Finland too, because it's so much like Alaska where I live.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the summary

Debie Grace said...

I found this book in a cheap book store where I live years ago and I just read it now. It's a nice story. I fell in love at the last chapters.

Makes me want to visit Finland, too! I am definitely going back to that bookstore and find some of the SASS books! I hope there are still more!