Review of The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as Told to His Brother)

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as Told to His Brother)
by David Levithan
Intermediate, Middle School    Knopf    224 pp.    g
2/21    978-1-9848-4859-8    $16.99
Library ed.  978-1-9848-4860-4    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-9848-4861-1    $9.99

Lucas’s brother Aidan goes missing, which leads to the worried, sympathetic response one would expect from his community. Six nights later, Lucas finds Aidan in the attic, claiming that he’s been somewhere impossible — which generates a whole new set of responses from disbelievers: media attention, resentment from those who helped with the search, prying and even some amateur spy work by other kids. That Lucas, rather than Aidan himself, serves as narrator allows the novel to focus on the effect on their family of Aidan’s disappearance and return. It also, relatably, brings in the viewpoint of the sibling of someone getting all the attention. Other than the one major piece of possible magic, YA author Levithan’s (Every Day, rev. 2/12; the Dash & Lily books) middle-grade debut is set squarely in the real world, with a voice accessible to realistic fiction fans. But it urges readers to consider a fantasy trope from a practical angle: if someone really went to, say, Narnia, what would happen when they got home?

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She is a current member of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee, and has served on the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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