Thursday, August 14, 2008


by Gary Schmidt

Henry Smith is the youngest of three children in the Smith Family. His "...father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you." (p 1). Unfortunately, Trouble does find the Smith family in the form of Chay Chouan, a Cambodian immigrant, who strikes Henry's older "perfect" brother Franklin with his truck, sending the Smith family into chaos. Conflicted by anger and guilt, Henry sets of with his dog and best friend to climb Mount Katahdin - a hike that Henry had planned to do with Franklin. Along the way Henry finds more Trouble, fear, anger, and eventually the ability to forgive.

I really loved the character of Henry. His conflict and righteous indignation towards Chay were wonderfully developed. I wish his love/hate relationship with Franklin had been addressed a bit more, especially any guilt he may have felt about the hate. It was apparent that there was a lot to both love and hate about his older brother.

I also thought that Chay was an interesting character and the snippets that we saw from his point of view really added to the story.

There's a lot to this book. Themes of forgiveness, racial tension, family, true friends and more run throughout, and it's easy to almost get overwhelmed by everything that is being presented. It is also a fairly slow moving book, so it might be easy for people to give up and quit before getting almost anywhere. It's a book that I definately recommend reading for long stretches at a time, as opposed to a chapter or two every night. I didn't love it as much as The Wednesday Wars by the same author, but I would definately recommend it.

4 out of 5 stars

PS Why do all of Gary Schmidt's books have such unattractive covers? Of the three books that I have read by him, I wouldn't have picked one up based on the cover:

PSS I am getting my wisdom teeth out in about an hour, so will be the last post for a bit. Pain killers tend to knock me out...

1 comment:

Laura H said...

Amen Kt i really liked this book too not as much as Wed. Wars but still good. And those covers are AWFUL they do not do those books justice. I would never just pick these off the shelves. good luck with your teeth.