A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Along the way, Trent learns about some new concepts, especially "continuity errors" in movies and storytelling. His friend Fallon wants to be a script supervisor when she grows up and knows a lot about theater and movies.
Strong messages about overcoming challenges and life's bad breaks, accepting the kindness of others, and learning to be a good friend.
Positive Role Models
Trent is very relatable in his struggles to control his anger and be less of a "screwup." Quirky, determined Fallon, who has issues of her own, reaches out to show him friendship and different perspectives. Trent's mom is concerned, loving, and sometimes overwhelmed; her boss, Ray, as well as various teachers at Trent's school, offers help and support. Fallon's dad, a cop, is very protective of his daughter but also helps Trent.
Violence & Scariness
A mention that an injury in the past was caused by someone on purpose. Trent's troubles began when he inadvertently killed another kid in a hockey mishap. Now rage is his constant companion. A middle schooler beats up a classmate who's tormenting him. Trent is constantly struggling with his anger, described here:
"The fire in my chest then, it moved on to the rest of me. Felt like my intestines were boiling. My fingertips twitched with heat. I wanted to punch Jeremiah in the face. I wanted to pull him off that bench by the collar of his shirt and smack him between the ears. I wanted to throw him on the floor of the cafeteria and kick him and yell at him and tell him to pick on people who actually ever did something to him, and not the one nice person in this whole stupid town. And then when I was done beating the crap out of Jeremiah, I wanted to beat the crap out of his friends, too.
"I swallowed the rage down."
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Trent's parents are divorced; his stepmother has a baby during the story. Trent discovers his mom is romantically involved with her boss when he sees him kiss her. Trent and Fallon, being 12, reject the notion of being anything other than friends.
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Multiple uses of "butt," "turd," "ass," "crap," "screwup," sometimes with the suggestion that the actual word used was stronger. Trent often describes people, activities, and so on as "stupid."
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Products & Purchases
Baseball-themed movies, including Field of Dreams, are important to the story. Trent and his family are big Dodger fans.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Lost in the Sun deals with some heavy issues, including death, divorce, disfiguring injury, and middle school, as its rage-filled 12-year-old narrator struggles with the aftermath of an accident in which he inadvertently killed a classmate. Author Lisa Graff has a track record of relatable, overwhelmed young protagonists (the title refers to a ball that eludes a sun-blinded outfielder) and smart, underachieving middle child Trent is no exception. He makes many misguided, anger-driven decisions as he feels his life spinning out of control, from finding creative ways to get detention to beating up a mean classmate, but tries to find a better path, as a new friend and some patient, kind adults show him new possibilities. Kids and adults use some crude language, including "butt," "ass," "turd," and "crap"; narrator Trent sometimes suggests that the actual word used was stronger. Violence, physical and emotional, is a constant presence as Trent deals with challenges and life lessons. The story offers plenty of positive messages about friendship, family, kindness, and dealing with a world in which bad things happen -- but a lot of good things do, too.
Is It Any Good?
Author Lisa Graff delivers highly relatable characters and situations in this story of two traumatized tweens, one scarred on the outside, the other on the inside. Trent's struggles and narrative voice will resonate with the experiences of many kids grappling with challenges and circumstances beyond their control. It's easy to root for determined, feisty Fallon, who changes his life and opens his mind to new possibilities, and wonder whether their budding friendship will survive Trent's issues as he tries to find his path.
Besides creating relatable, overwhelmed, well-meaning protagonists, author Graff has something of a track record for being long on coy hints and short on revelations of crucial information -- perhaps reflecting the mental state of a narrator trying to make sense of things. Readers may find it pretty annoying that LOST IN THE SUN teases them throughout with a particular question about a character and concludes with Trent announcing that he knows the answer -- and not sharing it.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.