Even though this has a SF element to it, it’s more of mainstream novel of a fifteen year old who has a cynical and challenging view of authority and is trying to deal with a mystical experience. This is very well done. I only put this is the SF category for it’s small elements but don’t look for a SF novel.
Kaspian Aaby is being raised by his born again stepmother. Her father died when Kaspian was very young. She sends him to a special summer camp in Maine that’s supposed to give him responsibilty and build character. He hates it and takes every opportunity to wise off to any authority figures.
One day he’s had enough and wanders off into the woods. He runs across three men who look like evil leprechauns. They take him to a place where he meets a girl dressed in white. He doesn’t know if she’s an angel or what. He sees his dead father.
Four days later he wakes up seventy miles away outside a small town. In his pocket is a toy he lost when he was five. He and his father looked for it but never found it. Looking across a baseball field he sees man in camouflage. He makes his way to a pottery shop where he meets Inanna Rugg.
She sends him to her cabin where her son Malcolm is taking a break from art school in Washington,D.C. They become friends. Dropping by is the man Kaspian saw in the baseball field. His name is Weeb. Kaspian explains his experience and Weeb tells him he had an anomalous entity/abduction/encounter. He gives him his card that says Weeb is from the Trust For Global Readiness.
Kaspian is finally picked up and taken back to camp. Later he’s transferred to the American Youth Academy in Virginia. The camp and schools are owned by Jason Winot. He ‘s pushing Congress to pass voucher laws for schools. He just happens to have schools is states that already have a voucher system. He also has a friendly Senator on the Education Committee.
Kaspian is surprised to see Ms.Thera Boot from the camp. She administers psychological tests to the students. Kaspian challenges her at every turn and snickers to himself about her connection with Winot. She also gives him sexual feelings he’s not that experienced with.
He meets a girl named Charity, another troubled student at the school. He’s also friends with the innocent twelve year old Vernon who is given an assortment of pills to try and control his ADDA. The students are going on a field trip. Tragedy strikes and then he has a relationship with Charity that takes a bad turn. Things come full circle during another field trip.
Kaspian’s cynicism is a pleasure to read, especially his dealings with Ms.Boot who at first has a Nick Cave poster in her office and then at the school she has one of the late Nick Drake. Kaspian sees through all the tricks some adults use to make teenagers think they’re understanding of their world and are hip to how kids think and why. It’s all the more interesting because Grant doesn’t fall back on making Kaspian a druggie or a total wise guy. You can feel his frustrations as he tries to get along in the world and deal with new experiences.