The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) by David Levithan, 213 pages, RL 4


The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)
Review Copy from Knopf Books

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) is a read-in-one-sitting novel, and for Levithan, editorial director at Scholastic, author of many YA novels and a few adult, this is his first foray into middle grade novels. A story like nothing I have ever read before, with a a truly unique perspective I have yet to encounter, Levithan brings his gifts as a writer who understands human nature and can capture the emotional complexities and experiences of young people on the page to this stunning novel.

Eleven-year-old Lucas has shared a room with his twelve-year-old brother Aidan his whole life - until Aidan disappears in the middle of the night. Lucas and his distraught parents, with the help of everyone in their small community, search for Aidan. Then, on the sixth night, Lucas hears a noise above him and heads to the attic, a refuge of Aidan's that has been searched repeatedly. There, bewildered and still in his pajamas, is his brother, a royal blue leaf stuck in his rumpled hair. When Lucas asks where he's been, Aidan responds with a word he has never heard before, "Aveinieu."

An observer by nature, Lucas stands back and watches the swirl of questions, from parents, police, and friends - and eventually from community members who helped search for him for days - that surround Aidan and the unsatisfying explanations he is giving. Lucas also observes changes in his brother. A gifted arguer who always had a quick retort and loved to tease and trick his little brother with creative stories, Aidan has become quiet and accepting of the fact that he thinks no one will believe him. Hoping to catch him in a lie, Lucas draws him out when they are alone in bed at night, learning more about Avienieu. Lucas watches his parents struggle with the trauma of Aidan's disappearance and the lack of closure his return brings and how the community turns on him when a police record is leaked. With the help of his empathetic Aunt Brandi and his love for his brother, Lucas finds a way to accept Aidan and what he is choosing to share. 

Just when you think you know how Levithan will wrap up this story that has you questioning of the verity of Aidan's explanation over and over, he takes a turn that makes for a deeply satisfying, unforgettable resolution. 

As with all of Levithan's works, LGBTQIA+ characters are integral to this novel.

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