Lost in the Sun
Trent begins his sixth grade year in his small town on the wrong foot. The year before he accidentally hit a boy with a hockey puck during a pick-up game killing him. It was a freak accident and the boy had heart problems, but Trent feels hopelessly guilty and responsible and as if the whole town hates him. To make matters worse his father and new stepmother just had a baby and he feels neglected and rejected by his Dad and resists spending time with him. Trent's two brothers try to lighten up the mood at Trent's house by pulling pranks on each other, but Trent still can't pull out of the cloud that is his life. Something is even blocking him from playing sports, at which he has always excelled and enjoyed. Enter Fallon Little, a loner who boasts a mysterious and disfiguring scar on her face. The two begin to watch movies at Fallon's house after school and slowly a friendship develops and trust builds. A crone of a teacher begins the year as another thorn in Trent's side, emerging as a patient support as the autumn progresses. Trent discovers that his mother is entering into a romantic relationship with her boss, which at first unsettles Trent, but eventually it provides another stable adult in Trent's life. The worse happens when Trent loses his temper resulting in the the loss of his friendship with Fallon. Trent must decide to fight for what is important and slowly begins to heal and forgive himself for the tragedy the year before.
I love Lisa Graff as an author. Every one of her books is so different from the next and she does not stay safely in the same genre or style. The two things that her books share is that they are impeccably written and they explore the connections between people. Last year's Absolutely Almost was one of my favorite books of 2014. Now Lost in the Sun is one of my favorite books of 2015. Trent grows from a place of hopelessness to that of healing. The beginning of the book was so sad that I didn't know if I could make through the book. The adults in Trent's life were frustrating and of no help. Finally, mostly through his relationship with Fallon, Trent begins to heal. The patient people in Trent's life, his teachers and former best friend, who at first seemed to be doing nothing to help him, were simply waiting until he was ready to receive the help. He was like a scared animal for the first half of the book. Finally Fallon breaks through to him and he slowly starts to let people in. Surprisingly, the real healing comes through the dead boy's sister, who is also suffering and the knowledge that more people than just himself were affected by the accident. This is a quiet and thoughtful book, but has enough characters and plot that it never gets boring. It is a great choice for book discussion and summer reading lists. Many issues such as bullying, blended families, judging others, and forgiveness can be explored. The book ended almost too neatly, but not quite. One plot thread is purposely left open, not to lead us to a sequel, but to give the reader something to chew on upon completion. A solid edition from a stellar writer that is sure to win awards.