Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Both Sides Now: Trapped by Laurie Halse Anderson

I know we shouldn't be doing this. Dr. Mac and my parents would be furious if they knew. But I can't help myself. I'm too furious not to do it. Maggie feels the same way. She was really upset and angry about what happened to Chico.

That's why we're here in the woods, hiding behind a boulder. Maggie and I talked about it at lunch today at school, and we agreed. We have to find the creep who set the trap that caught the dog.

When Brenna Lake discovers a stray dog near death in a hunter's trap in the nature preserve, her first thought is to get the wounded animal to Dr. Mac's Place, the vet hospital where she volunteers with her best friend Maggie Mackenzie. Although Dr. Mac, Maggie's grandmother, has to amputate the damaged leg, the dog, which the girls name Chico, begins to recover, and Brenna turns her attention to discovering the identity of the illegal trapper.

Again hiding near the disabled trap where she found Chico, Brenna finds herself confronting a teenaged boy who comes back to reset the trap. Armed with a holstered pistol, the boy, Billy Morrison, angrily defends his right to trap on the land where the Morrison family has always hunted, and frightened by the confrontation, Brenna and Maggie run away and report the crime to the sheriff.

When Brenna tells her family about the incident in the woods, her teen brother Sage, who has become a radical animal rights activist, storms out in anger, and Brenna's family fears that he will urge his group to take violent "direct action" revenge against the young trapper.

But when Brenna learn that Billy has only received a small fine, she and the other vet volunteers determine to pay Billy Morrison a visit and talk him into giving up trapping for good. There they find Billy about to shoot a trapped fawn, and Brenna realizes that the only chance to save the little deer involves calling her volatile brother to drive the victim to Dr. Mac. Surprisingly, Billy asks to come along, and as the two wait for the fawn to be treated, she learns that he traps fur animals to help support his family, and Brenna surprises herself when she suddenly sees his actions from his point of view.

Laurie Halse Anderson's just published new edition of her Trapped #8 (Vet Volunteers) is a fast-moving story with a bit of mystery and suspense which will appeal to middle readers. With realistic moral complexity and family conflict and a well foreshadowed resolution added to the basic animal rescue plot, it is one of the best written books in this excellent and highly readable series.

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