After huge craft that might be alien spaceships appear in the skies above remote Allagash, Maine, 11-year-old Roberta investigates.
Working with a backdrop of an actual reported abduction by aliens of four men in 1976, which adds a tantalizing level of reality, in her first children’s book Pelletier explores the possibilities. Allagash, a remote, seemingly uber-safe town, provides the perfect setting for a summer of exploration. Roberta makes tentative peace with her teasing older brother and learns to manage her grief after her beloved grandfather’s death, while her best friend, Marilee, begins to accept her father’s impending marriage—the ultimate confirmation that her divorced parents will never reunite. Amid this emotional turmoil, both girls freely roam the outdoor world, ultimately setting a trap for aliens. Roberta’s first-person narration is believably authentic, and the mysterious spacecraft sightings add a modicum of suspense that weaves enticingly in and out of common coming-of-age themes. When the girls finally experience an actual encounter, it’s something of a letdown; the mystery all dissolves into a not-very-satisfying, rather predictable climax. Altogether more amusing is the fact that everyone in town knows each other very well; Roberta’s entertaining comments on fellow Allagashians will ring true for village residents everywhere.
Still, the science-fiction theme provides an interesting twist to a heartfelt depiction of a summer of emerging self-realization. (Science fiction. 10-14)