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The Liberty Circle
(Shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award and a Saskatchewan Book Award)

Sixteen-year-old Corey has goals in life:  to leave his shabby, blue-collar neighbourhood and develop his skills as an artist.  His dreams seem constantly frustrated, though, by his familys poverty and the threat from local skinhead gangs. An invitation to an isolated summer camp seems to come at just the right time.  It’s even geared for kids like him, kids who hang out too much on the street. 

But Gunnarsson, the camp director, has other plans for the campers. Corey finds himself in a recruitment trap, bombarded by dark ideals.  He learns of a massive world  “conspiracy” aimed at “enslaving his race”.  Slowly, he becomes convinced that all of it is real. Only when an intervention snaps him out of his gang-induced mindset does he vow to leave the group and correct the wrongs it’s done.  But leaving the Liberty Circle, he finds, is not as easy as getting in...

“...the pace is fast, the material gripping, the style direct and absorbing. The Liberty Circle will spark many a spirited discussion.”   - Quill & Quire

- Quill & Quire“...the book teaches serious lessons about the nature of racism... A worthwhile addition to fiction collections serving upper middle school and senior high school grades.”   - CM: Canadian Review of Materials

.Dundurn Books     Recommended for ages 14+  with mature themes

    Print Version  ISBN 0-929141-69-5       $8.95 Canada/$7.95 U.S. __ 
eBook  ISBN 9781459716964      $7.99 or LESS

Check it out...the new book trailer for The Liberty Circle!


Excerpt: The Liberty Circle      Back to top

         We went on the promised hike, cabins three and nine together. That meant jogging down rain-moistened trails where mosquitoes whined through the undergrowth. My breathing got faster and harder, but not as fast or hard as the counsellors. Both Allan and Julie looked exhausted. It was like they never slept.
         The trail ended at a clearing by a gate in the chain link fence—a fence that apparently surrounded the entire camp. I noticed for the first time the barbed wire that topped it off. What was that for, I wondered? It must have cost a mint.
         “That’s to keep out the bears,” Allan said, catching my gaze. He regarded me a moment with a bright, sharp gaze. Then he clapped his hands together and looked about the group. “All right. Everyone sit themselves down in a circle, and we’ll pass around the old water jug. And while we’re at it, let’s each tell everyone our name and a little bit about ourselves.”
         One of those deals. So we all sat there telling our little tales, slapping at mosquitoes the size of bats. Most of the campers were in college, or between jobs, or otherwise uncertain of the future. Even Julie had been like that once:
         “I thought I had goals,” she said, “until I came here. Then I realized how dull it all was—go to college, get a plain old job, lead an average life. Well, Camp Liberty changed all that. Now I have a real chance at changing the world.”
         Allan nodded. “I was the same way. I thought I wanted to work in a bank, become a manager. Then I met Peter Gunnarsson, who showed me there was more to life than money. Now I’m in college, learning to be a teacher—the Liberty Circle way.”
         I was about to ask what the Liberty Circle was when we were interrupted by a commotion. Someone was approaching from camp—fast. Whoever it was crashed right through the brush, ignoring the zigzagging trail. Then we heard a wail like a yowling cat, and voices muffled by the forest.
         Allan stood, his face the colour of paper. He looked like he expected a bear to come racing out on the wrong side of the fence. But a yellow-shirted woman appeared instead, and ran straight across to the gate.The Freedom Run
         “No-o-o-o!” she cried, struggling with a padlock. “It’s got to open!”
         Now I expected a bear, but the only thing that followed was more yellow-shirted campers.
         “Angie, wait!”
         “Don’t run from us, Angie, please—we’re your friends!”
         “Angie, you don’t understand!”
         They swooped on her, five in all, as she started to climb the gate. Her cries turned to screams, and there was no doubting the reality of the tears streaming down her face. It took all of them holding her firmly to lead her back up the trail. One, a big guy with a beard, smiled back at Allan.
         “It’s okay, Brother. We’ll take care of her.”
         “Take her to Palmer,” Allan replied. “She needs reinforcement.” In a low voice, he added, “I told you...”
         The beard nodded, and the yellow-shirts vanished up the trail with their human cargo. We could still hear her cries, though—and then suddenly they were forming words:
         “Run! Get away! They want to change your minds! They want—”
         Her voice was cut off abruptly. In a few seconds, the forest was as silent as before.
         “What the hell was that all about?” Tony demanded. We looked to Allan for an explanation.
         He seemed embarrassed, and glanced at Julie nervously. “Angie is... Well, she’s—”
         “Sick,” Julie put in. “Very sick, actually.”
         “Is it...drugs?” asked a girl from cabin nine.
         Julie nodded. “I’m afraid so, Diane. We are...working with Angie, trying to get her back into the mainstream of life. She’s actually been doing quite well. It’s just that now and then she has these...”
         “Setbacks,” Allan supplied.
         With that explained, we rose to return to camp. We started out silently, subdued by what we’d seen, till Allan and Julie insisted we sing. That’s not easy when you’re jogging, but everyone seemed to warm into it after a while. Everyone but me, that is.
         There’d been something wrong with that explanation, I thought, something fake. They’d seemed stumped for a moment, then the words had tumbled out. And Allan’s comment: Take her to Palmer. She needs reinforcement. Who the hell was Palmer? And what was “reinforcement”?
         Julie caught me looking at her, and gave me a questioning smile. I looked away immediately, feeling a blush spread across my face; she was movie star gorgeous. But there was something else, too, something in her eyes. Something that said, I know that you know.
         I shook my head. I was getting paranoid, I decided. I didn’t know anything.
         I couldn’t quite keep my mind from wandering, though, and my eyes were to meet hers twice more before we got back to camp.

Copyright 2000 by Phil Campagna

Recommended for ages 14+  with mature themes
.Dundurn Books        ISBN 0-929141-69-5       $8.95 Canada/$7.95 U.S.