Cover image for Looking for X
Looking for X
Ellis, Deborah, 1960-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Toronto : Douglas & McIntyre, [1999]

Physical Description:
132 pages ; 20 cm
General Note:
"A Groundwood book".
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.6 4.0 35411.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Smart and independent, 11-year-old Khyber lives with her mom, Tammy, a former stripper, and her autistic twin brothers in a poor Toronto neighborhood. Though she doesn't have a lot in common with her classmates, Khyber does have wonderfully eccentric friends: Valerie, Toronto's meanest waitress, and X, a homeless woman in hiding from "the secret police". Despite having to deal with pompous social workers who make her mother cry and ignorant kids who make remarks about her brothers, Khyber manages to enjoy herself, poring over atlases, planning exotic journeys, and taking peanut butter sandwiches to X.

But when Tammy decides to move her sons to a group home for proper care, Khyber's world starts to crumble. She fights with her mom and then gets expelled from school. To make matters worse, X suddenly disappears. Khyber sets out to find her in a wild all-night odyssey of self-discovery.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-9. "I call myself Khyber after the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan," says the feisty 11-year-old protagonist of Ellis' fine first novel. Khyber fantasizes about visiting the Pass and other exotic places to escape the harsh realities of her life, including her odd-girl-out status at school. Living on public assistance with her single mom and five-year-old autistic twin brothers, Khyber retreats emotionally from others, trusting only a few adults, including a mysterious, homeless woman whom Khyber names X. Later, skinheads rough up Khyber and X, and at the same time, some school windows are broken. When Khyber is blamed for the vandalism, she must find X to corroborate the attack and provide an alibi. It would be easy for the book to drown in bleakness, but Khyber's strong spirit and believable personality will draw readers in and make them wonder about the characters' future adventures. --Anne O'Malley

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-8-Eleven-year-old Khyber lives with her mother and autistic twin brothers in a low-income area in Toronto. In addition to her problems at school (she skipped two grades and doesn't fit in), she deals with her mother's decision to send her brothers to a group home, some menacing skinheads, a false accusation of vandalism that gets her expelled, and a search for her homeless friend, "X." Khyber loves her family and gladly goes beyond what one would expect of a child in order to help her mother and "X." Her friends are an odd assortment of characters, all adults. There are just too many quirks and issues to make this book believable. Some aspects of the plot are far-fetched and everything falls into place just a little too neatly at the end. On the other hand, all of the characters seem real and natural. Khyber is a likable protagonist and readers will appreciate how she copes with her issues. If they can accept some of the improbable circumstances, they will enjoy the story.-Leslie Ann Lacika, Dingman-Delaware Middle School, Dingman's Ferry, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.