Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Title: Trouble
Author: Gary D. Schmidt
Genre: Young Adult
Published: 2008
Date Finished: 22 Jan 2008
My Rating: 4 Stars
Challenges: Library, New Author, 100+, Young Adult

From the publisher:
Henry Smith’s father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you. But Trouble comes careening down the road one night in the form of a pickup truck that strikes Henry’s older brother, Franklin. In the truck is Chay Chouan, a young Cambodian from Franklin’s preparatory school, and the tragedy sparks racial tensions in the school—and in the town where Henry’s family has lived for generations. Caught between anger and grief, Henry does the only thing he feels he can: he sets off for Mt. Katahdin, which he and Franklin had planned to climb together. One July morning, he strikes out for Maine with his best friend and the loveable stray, Black Dog, in tow. But when they encounter Chay Chouan on the road, fleeing demons of his own, Henry learns that turning a blind eye to Trouble only brings Trouble closer.

While reading Gary D. Schmidt's Trouble I kept thinking it was one of the best YA novels I've read in a long time. I attribute that mostly to the writing which was just excellent and kept me reading. There were however some elements in the story that just did not seem to work. I've decided to break this review down into likes and dislikes, starting with the dislikes.

-Predictable. I had the story figured out pretty early on. It seemed so obvious that I don't know if the author intentionally wrote it so the reader would know long before the characters or not.
-Author tried too hard to teach a lesson. At times I felt Schmidt stretched the bounds of telling a story too far in his attempts to make a point. Everyone was either good or evil depending on your perspective. Rich white people vs. poor Cambodian immigrants. I got he was trying to develop this story about racial tension but there was no middle ground and no explanation as to why they hated each other so much.
-Too many coincidences. The plethora of coincidences really stretched the boundary of believability for me at times.

While these things did bother me at times I was usually able to overlook them while I read because there was so much about the story that I was really enjoying.

-Characters. Many of the characters left a strong impression and Schmidt did an excellent job of creating them with a sense of time and place.
-Relationships. I loved the relationships between the characters. The family dynamic within Henry's family, Henry's conflicted feelings towards his brother and the relationship between Henry and his best friend Sanborn were all excellently executed.
-Emotion. This book was filled to the hilt with emotion at times. The emotions ran the gamut from disgust to sorrow to happiness and humor. It all made for really good reading.

Overall, I say this book is definitely worth reading and I am glad I picked it up.


KT said...

I really liked this one too. It was definitely predictable, but I liked the characters so much that it was ok with me.

Laura H said...

I'm with KT. I dont remember specific things( I read it last year) but I remember I liked it alot. This is one of my new favorite authors.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Hmm . . . I liked his other book that I read. I should give this one a try.

JUST ME, THE MOM said...

Love all your book reviews and receiving your comments on

Just finished "The Book Thief" - what a great book!!


Kim said...

I've read two others of his books and though he does try to teach a lesson in his books, I don't mind because his writing and the characters are so fantastic. Wednesday Wars and Lizzy Bright and the Buckminster Boy are both excellent in my opinion and they both won Newbery Honors.

Alyce said...

I haven't heard of this one, or this author. I enjoyed reading your review, and this does sound like an interesting YA book.