The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) Book Poster Image
Thoughtful middle-grade mystery explores truth and honesty.

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Kids say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Stands out for positive role models.

Educational Value

Some advanced vocabulary words like "sincerity" are explained.

Positive Messages

Don't make something up because you think it's what others want to hear; you're almost always going to be wrong about that. Running away doesn't solve your problems, it only causes more problems. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is listen to what they say, and believe them.

Positive Role Models

Narrator Lucas, 11, models communication, empathy, and perseverance. He starts conversations, asks questions, and listens carefully. He wants to understand his brother Aidan's experience and puts himself in his brother's shoes. When things are tough for him and his brother at school, Lucas does a good job of coping and making it through. Positive LGBTQ+ representations include a transgender aunt, and a seventh-grade boy who has a long-distance, same-sex romance.


Some scariness and suspense from a missing child who's gone long enough to be feared dead, with a safe resolution. Some verbal bullying and teasing by middle schoolers.


Mention of seventh-graders who are dating.


"Farting," "sucked," and "butt."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byNTK_ April 20, 2021


This is an amazing book! The only reason why I put 5 and up is because, 1st there is a long distance gay relationship and 2 years olds don't know how to re... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries and family stories

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