How do I keep ending up with these books about terrible things happening to kids? It is a subject I really prefer to avoid, but somehow, here I go again.
Ethan Manuel De Wilde was taken from his front yard when he was seven years old. Now, nine years later, he actually shows up again, having called Child Protective Services to help him get back to his family in Minnesota.
His reunion with his family is not smooth. His brother Blake, who was four when Ethan was taken, hates him: he is still mad that Ethan got in a stranger’s car all those years ago, bringing havoc and heartache to the family. He also resents all the attention his parents gave, first to the missing Ethan, then to the “miracle” replacement child Gracie (now six), and now again to Ethan. Gracie is confused and wary of Ethan at first, but warms up to him. Her adoration helps him learn the good aspects of what a real family can be like.
Meanwhile, Ethan’s parents are extremely strict with him, particularly his mother, who panics when he is even slightly late coming back from school. Soon they all relax a bit though, and Ethan begins a relationship with a nice girl who helps him through the rough spots.
But the ordeal isn’t over. Ethan still can’t remember a lot, and then there’s Blake, who gets more and more hostile. You know something is up, but it is only in the last few pages that a bomb is dropped, and it’s a stunner.
Discussion: For once I found myself wishing for a trilogy, so the story would keep going. The ending is, well, pretty memorable to say the least!
Evaluation: What does a kid go through who has grown up in a horrific environment? How does he come out of it and how does he cope? This book provides a creative look at some of the possibilities.
Published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2012