Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt


Henry’s father always told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you. Henry never had to doubt his dad’s favorite quote until the night his older brother Franklin was hit by a pickup truck. Now Franklin lies in the hospital on the brink of death while Henry has to deal with not only his emotions, but those of the rest of his family’s. His father has retreated into his library and rarely leaves, his mother is trying to stay strong, but Henry knows she’s on the edge of breaking down, and then there’s his sister Louisa who won’t come out of her room for anything. Not only is there family drama, but the driver of the pickup truck was Chay Chouan, a young Cambodian who attends the same prep school as Franklin. This stirs many racial tensions within the small Massachusetts town that Henry and his family live in.


Not long after Franklin’s accident Henry finds Black Dog. Henry saves Black Dog from drowning and now she won’t leave his side. In Black Dog Henry finds a best friend, someone to help him see the light at the end of the bleak tunnel he seems to be stuck in. After school lets out Henry knows the only place he wants to be is Mt. Katahdin, the mountain that he was supposed to climb with his brother. So he sets off on an unforgettable journey with Black Dog and much to his chagrin his best friend Sanborn. Even though the boys don’t know exactly how they will get up to the Maine mountain, they set off early one morning only to run into Chay Chouan a few hours later. He too is trying to escape. Though it’s not the perfect situation Henry has no choice but to accept a ride from Chay. The three boys head off to Maine unsure of what to expect, but soon learning that the further away from Trouble you try and get the closer it seems to be. As the journey continues Henry learns that some things aren’t really as they seem and sometimes Trouble is necessary to help us make sense of our lives.


I’m just going to say it plain and simple - this book took my breath away! I felt like laughing, crying, and shouting for joy all at the same time as I turned the last page. Not having read anything of Gary D. Schmidt’s before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I’d heard lots of good things of the book so I thought why not pick it up. It did take me the first 50 pages or so to get into the book, as I really wasn’t seeing what was so great about it, but after that I was totally absorbed into Henry’s world and I couldn’t help but keep the book glued to my hands. The emotion that the author poured into the pages is indescribable and utterly amazing. I could sympathize with Henry and feel the loss of his brother, I could feel his discomfort when he was sitting in the car with Chay, and I could feel the love that Henry felt for Black Dog. Feeling all these things really made the book come alive for me and truly made me grateful for the life that I have. I also loved the characters. While Henry was obviously the main character, the other characters were just as strong. You could still feel their emotions and they played a big part in the book. I especially liked Chay. What I loved the most is that you could tell he had a history, he just wasn’t some person that was created and minimally developed. Chay was extremely strong and had been through a lot. And then he put up with Henry’s attitude and offered everything he had to Henry and Sanborn so that they too could escape the Trouble that was seeking them. Another component of the story that I really enjoyed was how intricately everything was connected. One thing discretely lead to another and formed this mesh that shaped the whole story. He made everything fall into place so nicely that it really made me wonder if real life works that way. The book also seemed sheltered from the modern world which I found extremely interesting. I mean you could tell that the book was set in present day, but it felt like it was set ten or twenty years ago. I’m not sure what invoked this feeling, but it was really neat. The book almost had this rustic feel because the characters weren’t caught up in lots of technology drama (as in who had the newest/best phone or what not) or a lot of issues that take over the plot of many of today’s novels. This book/story was thoroughly refreshing and it drew me in even more. Needless to say this is a book that I think everyone should read. It would be a great book to use in school as it was interesting and everyone could take something away from it. All in all it is a new favorite that has made a lasting impression in my mind.

8 comments:

Michele said...

Sounds like a good one. Think it would make a good book club discussion?

Tasha said...

This would make a GREAT book club book. There are many topics that can be discussed as well as many emotional responses.

Carol said...

Sounds like a great book. Great review! I tagged you check my blog for details.

TheBookworm said...

Wow. I have never even heard of this book until I came upon your blog and read your review. I will now have to read the book!

TheBookworm
www.inthecurrent.blogspot.com

RR2 said...

I loved this book SO much!

rebeccagrabill said...

This is a good one - my favorite Schmidt book by far.

ReddIt said...

I enjoyed your review. Nice insights. One area where I disagree, however, regards the time frame for the book. It actually was set 20 years ago at least. I attribute this to the descriptions of Chay's past and the mention of the Kmer Rouge in Cambodia. That was a bloody struggle for the ordinary Cambodian people and is very significant in the discussion of this book. Also, you never hear the blue-blood characters talk about their iPods and cell phones.

Anonymous said...

I love this book and i liked the review on it everyone should read this book

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