The story line for this new book by Lisa Graff reminded me of Mile Lupica’s, THE ONLY GAME. In both books we discover early on that a horrific and unfortunate event has altered the life of our young boy narrator. Each story explores how they come to grips with their lives and a girl that becomes their best friend. Sports is also a backdrop.
LOST IN THE SUN is set in a small town during the early months of Trent’s sixth grade year. The accident that haunts him occurred the previous winter. Yes it was Trent who took the unfortunate hockey shot that killed another boy. Now he must deal with a town that supposedly despises him. He is also increasingly at odds with his divorced dad who lives not far away in a new marriage.
Trent is on his way to becoming the most obnoxious 12-year-old ever. His less than charming personality pushes the limits as he tests teachers and other adults. He’s also not afraid to physically fight with other kids. The scattering of inappropriate language nudges the YA mindset, but never quite jumps to that side. Still though I’d leave this one for upper MG readers.
The story will touch you deeply and for me it showed the need for counselors and therapists in the schools. So sad they are often the first ones given the ax in budget crunches.
PUBLICATION DATE:2015 WORD COUNT: 72,802 LEVEL: 4.5
FULL PLOT (From Amazon): Everyone says that middle school is awful, but Trent knows nothing could be worse than the year he had in fifth grade, when a freak accident on Cedar Lake left one kid dead, and Trent with a brain full of terrible thoughts he can’t get rid of. Trent’s pretty positive the entire disaster was his fault, so for him middle school feels like a fresh start, a chance to prove to everyone that he’s not the horrible screw-up they seem to think he is.
If only Trent could make that fresh start happen.
It isn’t until Trent gets caught up in the whirlwind that is Fallon Little—the girl with the mysterious scar across her face—that things begin to change. Because fresh starts aren’t always easy. Even in baseball, when a fly ball gets lost in the sun, you have to remember to shift your position to find it.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: LOST IN THE SUN by Lisa Graff
- Trent is someone you’ll hate for the way he treats others but love how he reaches out and tries to understand both himself and the people in his life.
- Fallon, his unlikely friend, is a girl with a past she wears on her face. She’s a welcome breath of air in contrast to Trent’s confused state. We come to find out they’re both scarred, though in different ways. Such a great pairing with these two characters.
- A divorced family with Trent and his two brothers splitting time between two homes, is expertly told. Many kids from divorced homes will be nodding their heads at the similarities depicted here.
- Trent’s older and younger brothers are perhaps the most stable part of his life. It’s typical brotherly shenanigans and misunderstandings that come to have more meaning for each character. The parents of these boys could learn a few things about parenting by dropping in on their conversations.
- I gravitate toward outliers like Trent. Sometimes all they need is a listener. For Trent, that listener is a teacher he despises. Wonderful thread with this sub plot.
FAVORITE LINES: I’m sorry. That’s what I wanted to say. But I wasn’t, not really. Not for what everyone wanted me to be sorry for. I was sorry Mom had to drive all the way out to get me because my dad was such a jerk that I couldn’t be in the same house as him for two full days. But I wasn’t sorry about the shouting, or the milk. I didn’t think I was the one who should be sorry about that..
“What am I going to do with you?” Mom said to me as we drove.
I didn’t answer. I didn’t have the slightest idea.
AUTHOR QUOTE: “One day when I was eight years old, I was whining to my mother that I was bored and she told me to “go write a story or something.” An hour later I produced a five-page picture book entitled The Strangest Flower, chock-full of spelling mistakes and truly terrible crayon drawings of flowers floating in midair. I still have it.” (Lisa Graff’s website)
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.