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Last Dance at the Frosty Queen    by Richard Uhlig order for
Last Dance at the Frosty Queen
by Richard Uhlig
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai

Arthur (Arty) Flood is in his senior year, looking forward to nothing less than a complete upheaval in his life as he graduates from high school and can finally be rid of Harker City, which must be the most boring and sorry little town in the whole of Kansas.

When we meet Arty he is relaxing at his favourite retreat, the fire-devastated remains of his family home that sits on the edge of Harker City Lake. It is here that he meets his stunning Loch Ness Girl -or did he dream her up? girls don't just appear at the dock and then disappear just as quickly.

Vanessa Said is a troubled young lady, staying with her uncle outside town while she undergoes psychiatric treatment; she and Arty enjoy a certain cerebral understanding and this leads to a romantic involvement, although both are well aware that their fling will probably not last over the long term. Arty is also dogged by his family history; his alcoholic mother, his father who has given up on life, his older brother who is slowly and inexorably following in his mother's footsteps, his sister who refuses to admit that her family has any issues ... and the fact that he is in a bad sexual relationship and is being strong-armed into dating the local sheriff's daughter, who he doesn't even really like.

Arty is a wreck, but can Vanessa help him start to sort himself out? Arty thinks that the only way to turn his life around is to escape Harker City; Vanessa teaches him that working through his fears, resentments and family baggage will take him much further in his quest for self-fulfilment.

While I quite enjoyed this book, I'm not entirely convinced that this is a YA read the sexual encounters are a little too explicit, so I would tend to see this volume as an older teen read.

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