Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Marisa de los Santos
Audrey and Aaron both have special gifts that make life difficult for them. Audrey can tell when people are lying and she can’t understand why everyone lies. Aaron remembers all the facts he comes across, but he has no understanding about how feelings work. They meet at a wilderness adventure camp with other kids who have challenges and been sent by their parents to deal with their individual struggles. They meet Kate, a girl who is sad all the time but has the ability to understand those around her, and Louis who has hypersensitivity to such an extreme that it makes his life difficult. They go on challenges set by the camp leader, Jare, while trying to deal with the bullying of two other campers, Daphne and Randolph. When Daphne disappears, all of the kids learn to appreciate their own strengths and get over their challenges to help each other survive the desert.
This is an adventure book with a lot of heart. Switching from the perspectives of Audrey and Aaron, the book shows the challenges the kids are facing and makes you root for them as they try to find their place in the world and survive in the desert. It has a good mix of survival challenges in the desert as well as internal struggles, and realistically shows how difficult both of those things can be. There are a lot of characters which might make it hard to tell them apart, but they all have their own personalities and struggles that the main characters try to understand. This book is a perfect read for kids who may be feeling a little lost and trying to find their place in the world, just like Audrey and Aaron.