Meet the Maine Coast through the eyes of a teen
deep waters, darker secrets / Brook Merrow. 9781633813632
Publisher Maine Authors Publishing, Thomaston, Me. 2023.
One of the perks of being an avid reader and book reviewer is that other writers find me from time to time and ask if I’m willing to review one of their books. Sometimes I discover a gem and Trapped is one of them, so I’m sharing it with YAOTL readers.
Ethan Olsen freezes up every time his grandfather's death is mentioned, but the trauma lives on inside him, making his life sometimes feel like a minefield. He lives with his parents and older brother who has gotten a full ride at Harvard. Dad is a lobsterman, like Gramps was, but he and his wife want better for their sons.
When older brother Ben starts acting odd and seems moody, Ethan isn't certain what's going on. Then Ben disappears and immediately after, Connor, a summer resident befriended by Ben, whose father is cold and very wealthy, is found floating in an abandoned granite quarry. If Ben's sudden disappearance wasn't enough, a series of threats to the Olsen family begin, starting with rotting bait strewn on their doorstep.
There is a dual escalation of plot threads, one being why Ben vanished and where he went, the other being the threats to the Olsen family's lobstering. Add in an interesting budding romance between Ethan and Britney Campbell, a smart, slightly cynical, and driven girl who has her own baggage.
This story does a great job of letting most readers 'guess' the big secret early on while pulling them along to see the why of each piece of the tale, whether it's Ben's mystery, the reason for the threats to the Olsen lobstering entity, or the dynamics between Ethan and Britney. All are done to perfection and the minor players, the lobstering aspect, and the coastal setting are all extremely well crafted.
This is a great book for any library to own.
Brook in her own words:
I like words. I like doing
stuff outdoors and writing about it.
Stoked about writing my first book ever—Trapped! A YA mystery/coming-of-age novel set in a lobstering village on the coast of Maine. A brother vanishes. A friend dies at the local quarry. Someone dumps rotten bait on the doorstep. And all Ethan Olsen wanted to do was skate through senior year without a hassle.
Best job ever? Teaching middle-school writing/reading: Great books. Crazy kids. Hands-on projects. What more could one ask for?
Favorite YA books: One of Us is Lying (I love mysteries); The Hate U Give (inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement); The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. (A funny and poignant National Book Award winner that often makes banned books lists. My eighth-graders loved it.)
Freak the Mighty from way back has been speaking to me lately: “Books are like truth serum – if you don’t read, you can’t figure out what is real.” Right?
My obsession? Crossword puzzles. I know, nerdish.
Poetry? Yes! Check out Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb.”
Likes: Hiking, skiing, biking, swimming, reading, photography, DQ chocolate shakes, Ted Lasso, and tasteless movies.
My family = 2 amazing boys + 1 incredible husband + 1 bird dog with the cutest little beard and a tuft of hair on top of her head.
Where I live: Sometimes in an airplane hangar in Idaho and sometimes in Maine.
Funnest fact: My family owned two summer hotels on the coast of Maine. For a kid, magical: elevator mischief, spacious games of hide-and-seek, and ice cream—lots of it.
choosing just the right word. I’m a word junkie. But I’m not going to sugarcoat it: writing can be pure drudgery too.