The Trap by Steven Arntson


51rcnnjtlwl    The Trap by Steven Arntson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017, 9780544813113

Format:  paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a starred review) 5

Genre: Supernatural and historical fiction

What did you like about the book? This book has the feel of an old-fashioned adventure novel, with the otherworldliness of it adding a vivid and unique flavor. The narrator, Henry, is instantly likable. The story takes place in Iowa in 1963 and revolves around Henry, his twin sister Helen, and their two best friends, Alan and Nikki. Alan’s older brother, Carl, has turned into a vicious bully, and clearly has some secrets. A mission to ferret out these secrets leads the four friends to discover a book which teaches them how to engage in out-of-body experiences. This novel goes beyond a simple supernatural adventure by exploring prejudice and the plight of aliens of all types, as well as broken dreams and wounded families.  The philosophical ruminations may surprise readers a bit, but they may spark some good discussion, making this book a good choice for a classroom or family read aloud.  There is a vivid sense of time and place, and while the adults in the novel do not quite understand the lives their children are living, they are well-drawn and multi-faceted.  This novel is both entertaining and intelligent, a winning combination.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I think this book hit the mark perfectly. I liked everything about it.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Read Alikes? This is a great book for both boys and girls. Recommend it along with A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

Who should buy this book? Middle schools and public libraries should purchase this book.

Where would you shelve it ?  Middle-grade fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  A resounding yes.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA

Date of review: February 16, 2017

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