By Gary D. Schmidt
Published by Clarion Books, 2008
Young Adult Fiction
Personal Enjoyment Factor: 4/5
First of all, let me just get it off my chest that I kept singing "That's right you got trouble/ right here in River City/With a capital "T" and that rhymes with "P" and that stands for pool," from The Music Man while reading this. I sincerely hope if you happen to pick up this wonderful book and read it, you will not be plagued with the same problem. Especially if it's during the 24-Hour Readathon, and you're a little loopy already.
Trouble finds Henry Smith and his family even though his father has tried to avoid it. The death of Henry's rugby-star brother ignites racial tensions with the neighboring Cambodian town and the upper-class community of the Smith family. Fourteen-year-old Henry is determined to climb Mt. Katahdin in Maine to prove some things to himself and the memory of his brother, but he discovers some unexpected truth along the way. And lots more Trouble.
I loved this book, although it didn't inspire the fantasies of driving to Michigan for a book signing/boy-band worthy screamfest that The Wednesday Wars did. Schmidt's writing and characterization is something I truly relish. There are some plot elements in Trouble that have the potential to be Troublesome: predictability, coincidence, unrealistic situations. But his ability to get the reader to connect with the characters overshadows any of these issues, as well as they way he combines humor and tragedy in such a powerful way. It probably doesn't hurt that Schmidt obviously has a love of literature, history and the outdoors, all things I can appreciate, that he seamlessly weaves into his stories. Trouble is one more "I laughed, I cried, it moved me" hit from one of my favorite authors. I am anxiously awaiting another.