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Middle-Grade Review: The Strangers

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I always enjoy Margaret Peterson Haddix’s middle-grade novels, and The Strangers, book one in her Greystone Secrets series, is no exception! Like some of her best, it combines kids who feel real with a twisty, intriguing science fiction plot.

The Greystone kids live with their mom in a house in Ohio and live a pretty normal life. Chess, short for Rochester, is in 6th grade and is protective of his younger siblings. Emma is a math whiz in fourth grade. Second-grader Finn is active and enthusiastic and keeps things fun. One day, the three of them come home from school to find their mom engrossed in the TV news. As they watch with her, they hear the stunning report that three siblings in Arizona–named Rochester (who goes by Rocky), Emma, and Finn–have been kidnapped. As the reporter provides details on the missing kids, the Greystones realize that these kids not only share their names but also their ages and birthdates. How is that possible? The next morning, their mother abruptly leaves on a business trip, which is unusual for her. She works from home as a graphic designer, and on the rare occasions that she travels, it’s usually planned well in advance. The kids are staying with their mom’s friend who has a daughter a year older than Chess. They discuss the strange circumstances of the past 24 hours and decided to investigate. They’re allowed to visit their house to feed and check on their cat, and when they do, they realize that the bizarre things happening have only just begun.

This is just the kind of story that Haddix excels at, with interesting kids, strange things going on, and lots of secrets and mysteries to uncover. The four children investigate what’s happening and uncover mysterious codes, secret rooms, and some major surprises. When the twist was revealed, I squealed out loud because it was just perfect (and the kind of plot I really enjoy in fiction). As always, Haddix has created three-dimensional characters that the reader quickly comes to care about. Here, chapters are written from alternating viewpoints, so you get their very different perspectives on what’s going on. The audio production was well-done, and the story and its mysteries provided gripping suspense that helped me finish this unique novel in record time. I definitely want to read books two and three now!

433 pages, Katherine Tegen Books


This book fits in the following 2023 Reading Challenges:


Big Book Summer Challenge


Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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