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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2008-04-21
  • Publisher: Houghton Miff
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From Newbery and Printz Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt comes a tender, probing story of social change set in New England."Henry Smith's father told him that if you build your house farenough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you."But Trouble comes careening down the road one night in theform of a pickup truck that strikes Henry's older brother,Franklin. In the truck is Chay Chouan, a young Cambodian fromFranklin's preparatory school, and the accident sparks racial tensions in the school-and in the well-established town whereHenry's family has lived for generations.Caught between anger and grief, Henry sets out to do the onlything he can think of: climb Mt. Katahdin, the highest mountainin Maine, which he and Franklin were going to climb together.Along with Black Dog, whom Henry has rescued from drowning, and a friend, Henry leaves without his parents' knowledge. Thejourney, both exhilarating and dangerous, turns into an odyssey of discovery about himself, his older sister, Louisa, his ancestry, and why one can never escape from Trouble.

Author Biography

Gary D. Schmidt is the author of the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. His most recent novel is The Wednesday Wars. He is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


1 Henry Smith's father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you. So the Smiths lived where their people had lived for exactly three hundred years, far away from Trouble, in Blythbury-by-the-Sea, where the currents of the Atlantic give up their last southern warmth to the coast of Massachusetts before they head to the cold granite shores of Maine. From the casement windows of his bedroom, Henry could look out over the feathery waves, and on sunny days-and it seemed as if all his life there had been only sunny days-he could open the leaded-glass doors and walk onto a stone balcony and the water would glitter all the way to the horizon. Henry's first word had been "blue." The first taste he could remember was saltwater. The first Christmas gift that meant anything to him was a kayak, which he had taken into the water that very morning, so calm had the sea been, because Trouble was so far away. Henry Smith's house, begun in 1678 with the coinage of his seventeenth-century merchant ancestors, stood on stone ledges, braced against the storms and squalls and hurricanes and blizzards that blew out of the northeast. Its beams were still as straight as the day they had been hewn, and Henry could run his hands along the great oaks that dwelled beneath the flooring and feel the sharp edges left by the ancient maul strokes. The house had been changed and added to and changed again for a century and a half, so that now, under a roof of dark and heavy slate, three staircases wound to the second and third floors, and a fourth climbed up until it struck a wall whose ancient framing only suggested the doorway that had once been there. The house's eight fireplaces were each big enough to stand in, and one had a hidey-hole that huddled beside the hearth and was guarded by a secret panel in the wood closet. Henry and his brother, Franklin, and his sister, Louisa, would hide in it during the winter, because it was always warm. The floors of the house were wide pine downstairs, wider oak upstairs, quarried stone in the kitchen and the end-rooms behind it, and Italian ochre tile in the parlors. The north parlor held lacquered Asian furniture brought back from Hong Kong and Singapore aboard nineteenth-century steamers. The south parlor showed the French Impressionist collection, including two Van Goghs and a small Renoir. The downstairs hall was an armory of Revolutionary War flintlocks that the Blythbury-by-the-Sea Historical Society borrowed for exhibitions on the Fourth of July because they still fired. The library held two shelves of medieval prayer books whose gold and red ad usums flashed as if they had just been scripted beneath the stern and glowing icons hanging on the dark paneling. Henry and his father would sometimes read them-"for the use of" this abbey, "for the use of" this monastery, "for the use of" this court-and then look out toward a gold and red sunset. "This house will stand until the Apocalypse," Henry's father would say reverently. Henry believed him. Blythbury-by-the-Sea had grown up slowly around the Smith house. Now it was the kind of town where no one who lived there, worked there. Weekdays, the dark suits commuted in sleek foreign cars to downtown Boston-Henry's father drove to a prestigious and well-regarded accountancy firm where he was a partner-and then the suits came back at suppertime, glad to have escaped the noisy crowd of the city. On Sundays, Henry's family went to St. Anne's Episcopal Church-where their family

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