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

Knopf. Feb. 2021. 224p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781984848598.
Gr 5 Up–When Lucas’s 12-year-old brother, Aidan, disappears for six days, his family and friends are frantic with worry. But equally concerning is the fantastical story Aidan tells when he reappears six days later. It’s hard to believe, yet Aidan stands by his claim that he traveled, via the attic dresser, to another world. Eleven-year-old Lucas wants to believe his brother, but it’s hard when the tale seems impossible and everyone, including their concerned parents, the police, and their friends thinks Aidan is hiding the truth. In the evenings, though, after a day of managing questions and navigating escalating tension at home and at school, Aidan tells Lucas about a place called Aveinieu, where the trees have royal blue leaves and the fireflies flash in different colors. A wondrous place that Aidan wishes he never had to leave. As Aidan inches toward reintegrating into his “real” life, Lucas begins to understand the importance of truly listening to—and believing—his brother. With authentic dialogue and a diverse cast of secondary characters, Levithan knits together timely questions of how we decide who to believe and our impulse to fit stories into recognizable narratives.
VERDICT An insightful story, with echoes of Narnia, that will appeal to thoughtful and sophisticated readers.

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