Title: The Mysterious Disappearance Of Aidan S. (As Told To His Brother)
Author: David Levithan
Publication Info: Alfred A. Knopf 2021
The Plot: Eleven year old Lucas’s older brother Aidan has been missing for six days. When Aidan returns, everyone is relieved, but his story of where he was is too fantastical to believe. Lucas watches the mood of the small town shift from relief to anger as Aidan’s story comes to light. Lucas navigates the tension he feels between defending his brother and understanding that Aidan’s account strains his capacity for belief.
My Take: I thought that this was an excellent book that pulled me right in and kept my interest to the end. It is really a twist on every children’s book that has the child transported to a fantasy world. Levithan asks the reader to consider the implications of something like The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. What would be the consequences of such a story? Would it be traumatic for the children to be transported back and forth? How would you ever be able to explain what happened? Levithan explores the strength of family ties and how much we can support our loved ones even as we question their behavior. I highly recommend this book to ages 11+.
One Interesting Note About The Author: According to his website, when David Levithan is “not writing during spare hours on weekends, [he is] a publisher and editorial director at Scholastic, and the founding editor of the PUSH imprint.”
The Plot In Five Sentences Or Less: Shad is a young man living with his older brother Jeremiah and their mother on the outside of Richmond, Virginia in the years just after the Civil War. Their father has died during the conflict and the family is trying to adjust to a post-war reality where Yankee soldiers roam the streets and carpetbaggers and free blacks compete for jobs. Shad, longing for security and fellowship, soon follows Jeremiah and joins up with the KKK. This allegiance is tested, however, when he begins taking classes at Ms. Perkinson’s, a transplanted Yankee that runs a negro school. When Jeremiah and the rest of the clan begin to threaten the Perkinson’s, Shad must decide where his true obligations lie.
My Take: As a native Richmonder, I very much enjoyed this book. As I read about the characters wandering down, say, Broad Street, I could see clearly in my mind the area through which they were traveling. I give credit to Westrick because, by focusing on the years just after the war, she has given us a Civil War book that stands out for its examination of post conflict adjustment. I felt that the characters and situations were sufficiently complex and, even at the end, there was upheld a good deal of ambiguity which evaded easy answers. Ages 12+
One Interesting Note About the Author: According to her website, A.B. Westrick was born in Pennsylvania, but now lives in Mechanicsville, Virginia. This, of course, still makes her a Yankee! 😉