Monday, June 16, 2008

By Gary D. Schmidt
Most enjoyed by 6th through 8th graders

This, I can say right now, is the best book I've read this summer. Yes, there's lots of summer left so I suppose some other book might come along to take it's place, but I doubt it. Early buzz on Trouble has it short-listed for an award, like a Newbery or Printz, but whether it wins an award or not, it's still a fantastic book. 7th and 8th grade book club members take note: Trouble is a title we will want to put at the top of our reading list this year.

Henry Smith's father has always said that if you build your house far away from trouble, trouble will never find you. For years, this has been true for the Smith family. They are one of the oldest families in Blythbury-by-the-Sea, their home, wealth and position in town having been secured by generations for Smith's before them. Oldest brother Franklin is a star athlete in the local high school, a senior destined to carry on the Smith family tradition. He has promised Henry that together they would climb Mt Katahdin in Maine. Henry longs to go to prove to Franklin that he has the guts to do it, to earn the respect he seeks from Franklin. Trouble seems to keep it's distance from the family until one night, when Franklin is out running, he is hit by a car, loses an arm and suffers severe brain damage. Trouble has arrived. The driver of the truck is Chay Chouan, a Cambodian immigrant from the neighboring town of Merton and a fellow student at Franklin's high school. With Chay's arrest, tensions between the two towns come to a head. But for Henry, watching his brother lie motionless in a hospital bed, the trouble he longs for most is to climb Katahdin himself, to accomplish the goal he and his brother set, the goal his brother will no longer be able to meet. As he prepares for the climb, trouble continues to dog his heels, until Henry and his family finally make peace with it.
I don't want to say too much more about the plot because if I do, I'll give quite a bit of the story away. Trust me - read this book. Trouble will give you lots to think about.

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