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 September 25, 2017  Posted by  Tagged with:

  2 Responses to “Trouble”

  1. 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Some ”Trouble” with the Theme, March 6, 2013
    By 
    Tanya Willow (Boston, MA USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Trouble (Paperback)
    Trouble
    By Bary D. Schmidt

    I heard the author interviewed on NPR (WBUR?) for a more recently released YD book, “Okay for Now.” He sounded interesting and the book sounded good and I ended up buying both for my thirteen year old daughter. (She’s reading “The Hobbit” right now for school. I ask if it’s okay to read one of these books for school but she can’t. Today they take web based tests that go into some State database so kids can’t negotiate the approved list anymore with their teachers. Everything is decided by the all-knowing “Cloud.”)

    I started reading “Trouble” to see if she’d like it and thought it was really well written. I’m not sure if YD books are allowed to get away with more implausible plots than say an adult book, but overall, despite the unlikely coincidences that happen throughout the book, the plot kept my interest to the point where I read rather than do other things I should have been doing.

    I was a little bored by the white man bashing themes: Our monied character dramatically tears his father’s credit card on a mountain top because money is all his father can give him. (Boo hoo and besides, how can you “tear” a credit card?) Though white rich dads are surely lacking in this book, the refugee father is the worst of all.

    We learn that White people are intolerant and lazy and entitled; which may have some truth to it, but exhausted white people who are losing their jobs and working night shifts to subsidize falling incomes don’t feel all that entitled right now. Naturally, the sister of the main character, who spends the book in her bedroom, emerges near the end of the book as the jock household’s best athlete but had to suppress her athletic acumen because of her oppressive and perhaps deservedly dead brother.

    The book piles on further down the oppressive white man path when we come across a “print” of an Indian slave ship. (A super unlikely coincidence in a series of unlikely events.) From the Captains face we are to infer some specifics about history and the print has “captured” this, implying it’s a photo? (Not possible but we are inferring a lot from what is described as if it were a photo.) Or are we to assume the artists was close to these events? What we do learn is that hero’s daddy’s money is dirty, as all old money must be.

    Yet, despite all these flaws–and I’m being a little nit picky here–it’s a really well written book with some beautifully written passages–and not “beautiful” in that self-aware way, but just well said. I don’t know if it would interest my daughter. It’s sort of ironic because despite all the PC themes running though out, it’s a white boy book for sure. The females are inconsequential–something I’m sure my daughter on a gut level would feel. But to get a kid reading, and to keep his attention, I think this book would be a great choice.

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  2. 3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    A great read for teens and adults, March 31, 2013
    By 

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Trouble (Paperback)
    While this isn’t my favorite of Gary Schmidt’s novels (that would be “Okay for Now” or “Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy”), this is a quietly moving read. Henry’s father has told him, “You build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you,” but Trouble does find the family when Henry’s older brother, while jogging, is struck by a pickup driven by a young Cambodian refugee, Chay Chouan, a student at the local high school.

    Henry is a well-written character, but because this story is written in third-person, there isn’t the strong and immediate “voice” of Doug Swiateck or Holling Hoodhood (both first-person narrators in other Schmidt novels). However, the supporting characters in the novel are brilliant, including Henry’s friend Sanborne, his sister, his parents, his dog, and Chay, the Cambodian refugee.

    Although the novel is powered by both a mystery and an adventure, the magic of the story is in the deft way Schmidt explores the deep challenges of being human and growing up. “Trouble” asks us to recognize that we often learn to live untruths as a way of coping with pain. Responding to the tragedies that have gutted his family, Henry answers the incessant questions of well-meaning people who wonder how he is doing: “And his family was doing fine. Just fine. They were all fine. They were all so fine they could be America’s Fine Family. Fine.” And as Henry’s carefree boyhood dissolves before his eyes, he grows up into the realization that suffering isn’t unique to him or his family: “A heart that has lost knows every other heart that has lost. Late and soon, loss is all the same.”

    As Schmidt writes, “The world is Trouble…and Grace. That is all.” And books like this one are powerful and compelling guides to that world.

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