Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)
by David Levithan
Recommended Ages: 10+

One night, while 11-year-old Lucas is sleeping, his 12-year-old brother Aidan disappears. A desperate search soon involves the whole community. Six days later, when the police are already starting to lose hope that the boy will be found alive, Lucas hears a thump in the attic above his bedroom, goes up to explore and finds his brother lying on the floor in front of an open wardrobe, which has already been searched multiple times. Asked where he's been, Lucas claims to have been in a fantasy world called Aveinieu, and he sticks to that story even though nobody (except maybe Lucas) believes it.

In an unflinching look at the downside of traveling to Narnia and back (or someplace like it), this book explores such issues as believing in the impossible, coming home from a life-changing experience, the stigma of mental illness, telling the truth regardless of what people want to hear, combatting cruelty with kindness, and supporting loved ones regardless of their choices and beliefs. I'll give Levithan credit for writing with a striking, beautiful style, treating his subject with compassion and stirring up a troubling blend of emotions, including a good deal of suspense – even if I object to his decision (in something of an afterthought to the main storyline) of needelessly sexualizing a 12-year-old kid.

David Levithan, a.k.a. David Van Etten, is the YA and children's author of the two "Disaster Zone" books, three "Dash and Lily" books with co-author Rachel Cohn, two "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" books (the first with co-author John Green), three or four "Every Day" books, and about 25 other novels. These include a couple "Malcolm in the Middle" titles, a "Charlie's Angels" adventure, some teen movie novelizations, and such titles as Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility, Love Is the Higher Law, The Lover's Dictionary, Two Boys Kissing, Answers in the Pages and Ryan and Avery. A lot of them seem to share the general theme of queer teens. Although it isn't crucial to the plot of this book, that theme is represented in a small but significant way – which may be a concern for devoutly Christian parents and teachers choosing reading material for their kids.

No comments: