STARRED REVIEW
June 2015

Fresh start after tragedy

By Lisa Graff
Lisa Graff’s latest novel is a feast for all kinds of readers. She writes convincingly in the voice of a middle school student, and young readers will relate easily to the main character, Trent. Graff’s stories always foster a better understanding of young people in parents and teachers, but never more so than in Lost in the Sun.
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BookPage Children's Top Pick June 2015

Lisa Graff’s latest novel is a feast for all kinds of readers. She writes convincingly in the voice of a middle school student, and young readers will relate easily to the main character, Trent. Graff’s stories always foster a better understanding of young people in parents and teachers, but never more so than in Lost in the Sun.

Less than a year before the story begins, an event in Trent’s life significantly alters the way he sees himself and his potential. During a pick-up game of hockey, Trent accidentally hits the puck into a friend’s chest, causing a seemingly benign injury. When a previously unknown heart condition causes the friend to die a few days later, Trent blames himself. No one seems to realize that Trent is still carrying that burden many months later, and it is a weight that slowly begins to unravel him as he begins sixth grade.

Without the years and experiences to acquire coping skills, children cannot easily handle emotional trauma, and the stress from a major event—death, divorce, abuse, neglect—is often internalized and comes out “sideways.” Trent decides that he’s a screw-up because of the accident and assumes everyone else thinks the same. It doesn’t help that his parents are divorced and he feels unloved and misunderstood by his dad. When Trent discovers that serving detention gives him an excuse to avoid forced dinners with his father, it makes being bad that much easier.

As a teacher, I have experienced firsthand the frustrations of dealing with that one kid who seems to want to push acceptable boundaries, and Lost in the Sun is a heartwrenching reminder to be more aware of what a child might really need from the people in his or her life. The book’s title is a reference to trying catch a fly ball when it’s lost in the sun—if you don’t change your perspective, you’ll miss it. If Trent wants to be happy, he’ll have to change his position and see things differently. Graff gives every character in Lost in the Sun all the highs and lows of being human, and by doing so, she gives us the chance find a fresh perspective as well.

 

This article was originally published in the June 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Lost in the Sun

Lost in the Sun

By Lisa Graff
Philomel
ISBN 9780399164064

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