Arts Entertainments

Trapped by Michael Northrop – A Blizzard, Seven Stranded Students, and Teenage Hormones, Book Review

A relentless snowfall Tuesday morning prompts an early dismissal at Tattawa Regional High School in a rural New England town. Seven students (five second-year boys and two first-year girls) waiting to be taken home soon realize that no one is coming to rescue them. When will they meet? How will they persevere? Will they all be found alive? That is the premise of Caught, written by Young Adult author Michael Northrop.

Sophomore Scotty Weems recounts the group’s ordeal.

It soon becomes Survival of the Fittest. Students raid their lockers for items to alleviate their entrapment, including sweatshirts, gym clothes, and snack packages from Oreos. “Any trade or exchange would be between friends. I guess that’s when we started keeping secrets,” says Scotty.

Two of Scotty’s friends, Pete Dubois and Jason Gillispie, are among those stranded. Scotty describes Pete as a normal sophomore who wasn’t super trendy or incredibly smart. Jason spends limited daylight in the Industrial Arts room working on his go-kart project called, Flammenwerfer (German for flamethrower).

Students endure the lack of mobile phone reception; sleep on cold, hard tile floors; use toilets with pipes that will soon freeze; and forty-degree hallways.

As their nightmare continues, the clan blatantly decides to break into the cafeteria to satisfy their hunger. Peaches canned in heavy syrup, pudding and half pints of white and chocolate milk are among his finds.

Scotty is torn between obeying the invisible authority and accepting the group’s cafeteria robbery plan. He fears the theft will affect his position on the school’s basketball team.

Caught illustrates how people can be perceived differently, depending on the situation. During school time, a stranded student, Les Goddard is known as a bully and often tied up in detention. However, he proves invaluable as a locksmith, capable of entering desirable areas, including the cafeteria and the infirmary. “The day before I was kind of scared to be around Les,” says Scotty.

Wit reigns supreme as students use blankets from the nurse’s office and a battery-operated radio to listen to weather updates.

Teen hormones accentuate the student experience, as Scotty is drawn to freshman Krista O’Rea: “That same morning, I spent a quality twenty minutes staring at the back of her neck on the bus, speechless and possibly drooling. ” Pete and Julie Anders, Krista’s best friend, also sneak into the dark to kiss.

Contemporary references to reality star Snooki and singer Lady Gaga complement the young adult narrative.

Yes, Caught it is written for a young audience. Regardless of your age, you will find yourself wondering how you would act in similar conditions, perhaps stranded at your workplace or in a civic group meeting.

Northrop’s well-written narrative and surprise ending authenticate Caught ‘s keys.

To discover other best-selling young adult authors and read the full list of 2012 Teen Choice Book of the Year nominees, visit: nominees.

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