The Trouble with Lemons by Daniel HayesThe Trouble with Lemons is a young adult/middle grade coming-of-age mystery from the early 90’s. It focuses on Tyler McAllister, a boy who suffers from severe allergies; his mother just had them move to a small town, because she thinks it’ll be better for him; however, his mother and brother are both in the movie business, so his primary caretaker is a nanny, which causes some concern with the principal of his high school when he starts getting into trouble as he attempts to solve the mystery of how a man was killed.
The story itself is interesting and I think that the feeling of being out of place will remain true to pre-teens and teenagers, no matter what decade they live in. When Tyler sneaks out with his friend at night, they witness a body being dumped, so Tyler feels responsible to find out how that man ended up being killed and who did it. However, he gets himself into trouble because he’s a new kid and doesn’t always get along very well with the students at his school. This novel has some nice action moments and also deals with social/emotional stuff, like feeling out of place and trying to make friends.
The basic premise holds true today, but I don’t think that this book ages well. The characters use a lot of 90’s slang, which might make it difficult for today’s teens to connect with the characters, because it’s hard to see themselves in them. However, it’s a quick and easy read, hits on some interesting concepts, and has the intrigue of the mystery, so it could serve as a decent gateway book if the slang stuff isn’t a problem. This is something I would have picked up as 10 or 11 year old if I had nothing else to read; decent, but not an amazing, must-read book.
Also posted on Purple People Readers.
The Trouble With Lemons
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MORE BY DANIEL HAYES
Thank you! Though most of the adults in Tyler's life are not only competent but supportive, several of them are absent: his actress mother, on location in Colombia; his older brother, making his first big movie; his dad, recently lost in an airplane crash. That leaves Tyler, insecurely thinking of himself as a lemon, in the new family home with a motherly long time housekeeper and new groundskeeper Chuckie, an ex-Marine. There, they literally bump into a body, which they report anonymously to the police; for rather frail reasons, they don't report the results of their own subsequent investigations until they have provided the plot with a certain amount of excitement involving local bullies and the school principal--and, of course, improved Tyler's self-image. The characterizations here range from predictable to stereotypical most egregiously, a librarian , while the plot has contrivances like a parallel between Tyler's chauvinist dad, whose wife had a career despite him, and the principal, whose embittered wife was thwarted in the same school profession. Still, Tyler's narrative moves right along. Adequate for mystery buffs.
He meets a chubby farm boy named Lymie. They have nothing in common. Amazingly, they become best friends. Lymie stays over one night and that friendship prompts Tyler to talk Lymie into visiting a quarry. Upon arriving at the quarry, they notice a car is there.