Mousetraps by Pat Schmatz
Maxie is a person who looks at the world through her cartoon lens as she draws pictures of everything around her. Her family is large, boisterous and close and little has happened to challenge her security. Except that incident with Roddy her friend in grade school whom she abandoned when things got tough. Now Roddy, who calls himself Rick, has returned to the community, high school and Maxie’s life. Maxie is confronted on many fronts by how her own choices and her familial security have kept her blind to many complex situations right in front of her.
It is a joy to watch Maxie make realizations and change in believable and interesting ways without losing what makes her herself. Schmatz writes with an intriguing mixture of forthright plot-based writing and occasional glimpses of poetry and musing. Maxie is an intriguing character who is neither pretty nor ugly, girly or tomboyish, lonely or popular. She is what most teens are: somewhere in the middle but also very special and talented in her own way.
The book is also very timely in its subject matter. Readers will get to explore the issues of being gay, bullying and violence in a book that takes each of them seriously and offers hope and solutions. The homosexual characters in the book are far from stereotypical and offer a look at how modern families have adapted and grown to not just accept but embrace all family members. This is done very believably and lacks any heavy-handedness. The tone is perfection.
Appropriate for ages 14-16, this is a clever, interesting and often surprising novel.