Eleven-year-old Marin discovers her “new” neighbors are from 20 years ago.
Light science fiction and plenty of mystery abound when her mother’s job takes Marin and her family from Illinois to small-town Pennsylvania. The preteen worries about losing old friends and making new ones, but not for predictable reasons. An unexpected opportunity allows Marin—and readers—to learn how fear, bullying, and secrets poisoned her former friendships. The second and larger mystery, which also drives the plot, occurs when Marin, scouting out her new neighborhood, notices several teenagers appear and suddenly vanish. Charley, who’s lived next door with his grandmother since his parents’ substance use made it hard to care for him and his brothers, has seen them, too. Dubbing these mysteriously vanishing teens the Remarkables, Charley believes that they are time travelers from the past and include his father and the girlfriend his father may have accidentally killed. In this tightly woven, stand-alone story, Marin and Charley set out to identify the Remarkables, stop the accident that claimed one of them, and hopefully keep Charley’s father from succumbing to addiction. In the process, the author seamlessly combines elements of both mysteries while also raising ethical dilemmas about changing the past. Most characters, including Marin and Charley, are default white, but some of the Remarkables are kids of color.
Blending issues that matter to young adolescents with intrigue and a surprise ending, Haddix proves why she’s a master of middle-grade fiction. (Suspense. 8-12)