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April 10, 2014 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Everyone is guilty of eavesdropping now and again. Whether it’s half a phone call in the line at Starbucks or the couple arguing in the next room, sometimes you just can’t help but overhear.
For Miles Adler-Hart, eavesdropping goes beyond the casually caught conversation. Casebook, the sixth novel from author Mona Simpson, follows him and his best friend/sidekick, Hector, as they investigate a suspicious new figure in the life of Miles’ mother.
A departure from Simpson’s past work, the story is told entirely through Miles’ young eyes. Although he is wise beyond his years, what Miles discovers might be too big to handle.
From the first page, Simpson pulls readers into Miles’ curiosity by taking them along on an adventure under the bed to discover the novel’s first secrets. Hiding below his parents’ dusty box springs, Miles overhears life-changing words: “My dad was saying that he didn’t think of her that way anymore either,” Simpson writes. “What way? And why either?”
A perpetual snoop with concern for his future, Miles’ surreptitious skillset allows him to look out for his mother, Irene, as his family crumbles.
Miles then begins a Harriet the Spy-style journey of seeking answers and dealing with the consequences, but in a way that is more literary and intriguing. Young adults and older readers will find this coming-of-age tale equally entertaining.
Feel free to discuss the teen sleuth and his adventures once you’ve devoured Simpson’s tale. Just be careful not to drop any spoilers; you never know who could be listening.