"You can't catch what you can't see." (pg 120)
Trent Zimmerman, 12, has been consumed with guilt and anger and convinced that everyone hates him ever since the accident in February. Now, the it's the start of the school year and he is beginning middle school, but his guilt and anger are becoming harder to contain.
The burden Trent is carrying inside himself is the accidental death of his friend Jared Richards during an ice hockey game, when the puck that Trent sent flying hit Jared in the chest, killing him due to an unknown heart condition. Everyone tells in to get on with his life, it was an accident, but Trent is frozen in that moment. Former friends begin to avoid Trent, and he finds it difficult to play sports any more. But middle school, his mom tells him, is a chance to make new friends.
And Trent does make a new friend - Fallon Little, the girl with a scar running from her left eyebrow, across the bridge of her nose and down to the right side of her mouth. Fallon continuously makes up stories about how she got the scar as a way of fending off the true story, leaving the reader to wonder what trauma she suffered. Trent, on the other hand, deals with his trauma by drawing his thoughts about what happened to Jared, some very disturbing, in his Book of Thoughts, as suggested by his 5th grade teacher.
But Trent is also acting out, doing his best to offend everyone around him, except his mother and older brother Aaron. He refuses to participate in PE after freezing on the basketball court the first day. And goes out of his way to be rude and disrespectful to his home room teacher, Ms. Emerson, or as he refers to her - the wrinkled old crone. And when he and his brothers meet their dad and his new, pregnant wife for dinner three times a weeks, he goes out of his way to provoke his father.
Trent loves baseball, and when Fallon invites him over to her house to watch Field of Dreams, he tells his dad he has joined the school's Movie Club that just happens to meet the three days he sees his father for dinner. But slowly, as Fallon and Trent watch more movies together, he finds himself enjoying being with her and her enthusiasm for things.
Despite his anger and his acting out, Trent manages to coast along with a B- average. But when he loses Fallon's trust and is later told that he may fail PE and is given suggestions of ways to pull himself out of that, it opens the way for a real possibility for healing for him.
But will Trent allow himself to be gently and slowly led out of his paralysis with the help of Fallon and Ms Emerson?
I had a little trouble getting into this book, but then realized I was totally hooked. The story is narrated by Trent who has a compelling middle grade voice and ways of expressing himself. It was also interesting to see how he interrupted other people's behavior around him and its impact on his own behavior. Whether the reader thinks he was always right in the way he read other people or that he was misinterpreting them isn't the point, even though it is clear sometimes. The point is to see Trent's thought processes as he deals with his trauma.
Which makes seeing how he and Fallon, both traumatized kids, were able to help each other, not by talking about what happened to them, but by just being there as a friend. But for me the most compelling thing about the story was how the adults around Trent really believed what happened to Jared was an accident and that Trent should just move on with his life. They didn't seem to realize that a 12 year old even accidentally killing a friend needs to be addressed, Trent is clearly suffering from PTSD and no one seems to realize it.
Don't get me wrong, though. Trent's mother is supportive, so is his older brother, but Trent is also in for a big surprise regarding his younger, annoying brother Doug. His dad was also annoying. He tried to keep a relationship going with his three sons, but meeting at a diner mid-way between their homes three nights a week really didn't cut it, even though they did get to stay with him and his wife occasionally.
This is a great novel full of realistically flawed people who definitely have something to tell the reader about family, forgiveness, and friendship.
This book is recommended for ages 9+
This book was borrowed from a friend
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is a weekly event hosted by Shannon Messenger at Book Ramblings, and Plenty of Shenanigans