- The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as Told to His Brother) by David Levithan
Library ed. ISBN 9781984848604 $19.99
Trade ed. ISBN 9781984848598 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781984848611 $9.99
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 5–8
When Aidan comes back after going missing for six days, his small town is deeply relieved. His story about his whereabouts—that he found a portal in a dresser in the attic and walked through it to a parallel world—strains credulity, though, and his brother, Lucas, works hard to believe it. Aidan’s despondent to be back, having felt like he truly belonged in Aveinieu, where life felt more vibrant and interesting. Originally united in their desire to find Aiden, the town starts to angrily reject him since it appears he must have run away on a lark; this prompts Aidan’s parents to move from questioning to acceptance, deciding that protecting their boy is more important than understanding him fully. The revelation of the truth is a bit of a disappointment, as part of the power of the novel is Lucas’ decision to believe based on faith in his brother and not incontrovertible proof, and his narration similarly requires the reader to trust Lucas’ perspective. However, that’s a minor quibble in what is otherwise a stellar novel that deftly examines the uncomfortable reality that not everything has a satisfying answer. For example, sometimes people go away and we’re lucky if they come back, and we may be better off focusing less on where they’ve been but on the fact that they’ve returned.