A middle grade mystery that kept me guessing right up until the ending. If you are looking for a thrilling read – look no further!
Cooper is lost. Ever since his father left their family three years ago, he has become distant from his friends, constantly annoyed by his little sister, Jess, and completely fed up with the pale, creepy rich girl who moved in next door, who won’t stop staring at him.
So when Cooper learns of an unsolved mystery his sister has discovered online, he welcomes the distraction. It’s the tale of a deadly train crash that occurred a hundred years ago in which one young boy among the dead was never identified. The only distinguishing mark on him was a strange insignia on his suit coat, a symbol no one had seen before or since. Jess is fascinated by the mystery of the unknown child—because she’s seen the insignia. And, she tells Cooper, he has too.
It’s the symbol on the jacket of the girl next door.
As they uncover more information—and mounting evidence of the girl’s seemingly impossible connection to the tragedy—Cooper and Jess begin to wonder if a similar disaster could be heading to their hometown. Thus begins an unforgettable adventure about the forgotten among us and what it means to be seen. from Goodreads.
This is going to be difficult to discuss without spoiling anything but I am going to do my best! My instinct is to gush about the storyline and mystery in this middle grade book but that way leads to danger so I am trying to restrain myself.
Okay. Well, I am slightly calmer. This book was ridiculously good. Cooper is a standard middle school kid saddled with too much worry, a little sister with type one diabetes and a run away Dad. In case you are keeping score for middle-grade BINGO, don’t forget to ask yourself, “Where are the Parents?” In this case we have: Missing Dad (run away to start new family) and Overworked Mom. The author did a fantastic job with the way chronic illness can make one kid grown up faster in order to care for another. Really, the addition of diabetes was incredibly well done. So, must add Overworked Mom / Distracted by Sibling to the mix.
This lack of supervision combined with the anger that Cooper cannot seem to control has made him isolated from his family and his childhood friends. All this time spent alone has also made him an excellent observer. His annoyance with his creepy next door neighbor is only interrupted by his interest in the mystery Jess has found – an unknown and unclaimed child dead in a train accident so many years ago. Could someone become so invisible, so alone, that even if they died no one would notice? Is that Coopers fate?
In an attempt to break out of his solo routine, he befriends Gus at school. Gus is new, overweight, awkward, and lives with the worst neighbor on their block. Maybe solving this mystery with Jess and talking with Gus will help Cooper get over his past and avoid being so alone that he is becomes forgotten.
This story was like a rollercoaster. It started a little slowly but, within a few chapters, the action was rolling. Everytime I thought I understood what was happening, I became thrown off again. This is impossible! How do you talk about a mystery book without spoiling it?!? I even feel like saying things like “twist” and “surprise” is too much. How about this – a middle schooler recommended this to me like this, “Read this, it’s awesome, you won’t be able to put it down,” and he arched his eyebrow in that smug, you’ll-see, way. Who could resist?
He was so right. Cooper and Jess did the usual annoying one-dimensional character (Cooper is angry, Jess is littler) to kids I would happily claim as my own routine during the course of the story but how the author managed it felt new and fresh. Oof, but that creepy girl-next-door with her private school blazer? I couldn’t get enough. This is a middle grade mystery I will recommend again and again.
Tell me, please! How do you manage reviews for mysteries?