A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
What's the story?
Ever since a freak hockey accident in which his badly hit hockey puck struck and killed a classmate, 12-year-old Trent is pretty sure everybody hates him, and, for the most part, it's mutual. Sometimes he's overcome by rage; other times it's panic attacks, and the fact that he's starting middle school just makes it worse. He mouths off to his teachers; he dreams of beating up his classmates. His parents are divorced, and his relationship with his dad is rocky. Bursting into his zone of self-perpetuating misery comes Fallon, the weirdest girl in his class, who has a big scar on her face, doesn't let mean classmates get her down, and insists on becoming his friend. Skeptical at first, Trent soon likes the idea -- but will it all go bad, just like everything else?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about accidents and other situations where something you do has a bad result, even though you didn't intend to cause it. Has this happened to you? How did you feel? What did you do to make things better?
Which other stories do you know about kids dealing with the aftermath of a life-changing tragedy? Do you find them inspiring or depressing?
Some scars are on the inside. Some are on the outside. Which do you think would be harder to deal with?
- Author: Lisa Graff
- Genre: Emotions
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Philomel
- Publication date: May 26, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love stories of friendship and misfits
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