McCullough, Joy

A Field Guide to Getting Lost

(2) 4-6 Sutton prefers programming robots to being with people, but she's still disappointed when she learns that her mother, off researching penguins in Antarctica, won't return in time for her tenth birthday. Luis writes fantasy-adventure stories, but severe allergies limit his own potential for adventure. Sutton's dad (divorced) and Luis's mom (widowed) are dating, but as far as their children go, opposites do not attract, with the gap between science and science fiction bigger than anyone had expected. When Sutton and Luis get lost together during a family hike, however, they discover how to bring out the best in each other and make solid moves toward independence and maturity. The characters' evolution over the course of the novel is authentic, with the traits that set them apart serving as challenges to be addressed, not problems to be fixed. The book is full of allusions that are clever without being overdone (Sutton's parents in the roles of emperor penguins, Luis's hero's journey as he walks to the store by himself). A strong cast of secondary characters adds depth to the story, and the book's Seattle setting is richly detailed. The younger-tween experiences of defining identity and establishing independence are authentic and treated with respect in this emotionally satisfying story.


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