The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S.
(as told to his brother) by David Levithan
The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. is a fascinating exploration of the impact of an unexplained event on a family and their wider community. A twelve-year-old boy, Aidan, goes missing without a trace and returns a few days later. Instead of relief, his reappearance leads to further questions and concerns, as he claims to have been in another world, called Aveinieu.
Whether what happened to Aidan was real or not becomes less relevant in comparison to how everyone reacts when they hear about it. Aidan’s account of his whereabouts elicits frustration and ridicule from those around him, but what he needs most is to be believed. This is a powerful story about the importance of accepting the truths of other people, even if they are beyond our own comprehension.
Told in the first person, from the point of view of Aidan’s younger brother Lucas, I was hooked from the first page. I love how it’s written - it flows so naturally that it feels as though an old friend is speaking to you. Although there are fantasy elements, they never seem far-fetched or out of place.
Lucas and Aidan are extremely convincing, as is their relationship, which is like that of most siblings. At times there might be conflict, but the brothers’ fierce loyalty and affection is overwhelmingly apparent throughout the story. All the characters are brilliant, including the boys’ parents.
I was especially fond of Aunt Brandi and my favourite lines in the book come from her: "None of us can understand it. Some people will accept that. Other people won't. They get scared by things they don't understand. Those are the people to be careful around. But they don't get to dictate our reality."
Brandi has a particular insight into feeling like an outsider. She understands what Aidan requires from those closest to him and helps his family to support him. I loved Officer Pinkus too. Like Brandi, she is gentle and compassionate and full of wisdom which benefits readers as well as the brothers at the centre of the story.
Even though this describes the aftermath of something extraordinary, rather than the event itself, it’s still full of suspense. I had chills at certain parts and felt a palpable sense of dread at others, especially when the boys were worried about going back to school. Anxiety about a return to any public space after an incident that has made us conspicuous is something to which most people can relate.
This book will resonate with all readers. The fear of being honest with others about aspects of yourself, your feelings, your experiences, or your problems, is universal. This story demonstrates that no matter what you are struggling with, you’ll feel better if you talk about it with someone you trust. It also shows the value of non-judgemental listening.
I really enjoyed The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. This was my first time to read anything by this author, and I’m looking forward to discovering more of his work.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Levithan is a literary legend. As well as a prolific and bestselling writer, he is the founding editor of PUSH, a young-adult imprint of Scholastic Press which focuses on new voices. Levithan worked on The Baby-sitters Club series while interning at Scholastic when only 19!
I’ve seen two films based on Levithan's books, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (which he co-wrote with Rachel Cohn) and Every Day, and loved them both. Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List was also co-written with Cohn and adapted for the big screen. Levithan has published many more award-winning titles and you can see the full list on his website.
A huge thank you to the publisher for the advance reader copy of this book which I received via NetGalley - all opinions expressed are my own.