A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
Stands out for positive role models.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) is a middle-grade mystery about what happened to 12-year-old Aidan and where he went when he was missing for six days. There's some scariness, suspense, and fear that he might be dead during the time he's missing, with a safe resolution. Mild potty humor includes "farting" and "butt," and something "sucked." There's also some verbal bullying and teasing by middle-schoolers. Themes explored include truth, honesty, fantasy, reality, and the importance of being believed.
What's the story?
In THE MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF AIDAN S. (AS TOLD BY HIS BROTHER), 11-year-old Lucas tells how his older brother Aidan went missing for six days. No one could figure out how he disappeared or where he went, but everyone was happy, thankful, and relieved when he reappeared just as mysteriously as he had vanished. At first Aidan doesn't want to talk about what happened, saying that no one will believe him or even be able to understand. And as Aidan starts to reveal bits of what happened, it turns out he was right. His story is pretty hard to believe, to everyone except Lucas. Together, the brothers will have to try to figure out whether the truth is actually helpful when no one believes it.
Is it any good?
This is an absorbing, thoughtful, and ultimately poignant story from veteran YA author David Levithan, who this time unusually writes for middle schoolers instead of older teens. The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. will get tweens thinking about truth, honesty, fantasy, reality, listening, and believing thanks to narrator Lucas' believable voice. Nuances of all these issues are explored without dumbing anything down and without being overwrought. In the same way that A Wrinkle in Time is many young readers' first and most vivid encounter with scientific complexity, this book may be a vivid awakening to thinking about the complexities and subtleties of truth, the value of honesty, and how or whether to believe the unbelievable.
The plot is well structured and evenly paced, weaving attempts to uncover the mystery with attempts to get back to normal after a life-changing event. There are one or two lose threads, but the characters are easy to root for, and readers will enjoy the depiction of two brothers becoming closer as they start to mature. The ending is moving and satisfying, but leaves plenty of room for for different takes about the issues raised.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the character of Lucas in The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. Is he a positive role model? Did you like him? What are his character strengths and weaknesses?
Why is it important to have diverse characters in books? What can you learn from reading about people who are different from you? How do you feel when you read about someone like you?
Mystery stories are always popular. What do we love about them? What are some of your favorites?
- Author: David Levithan
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, Middle School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
- Publication date: February 2, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 3, 2021
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