Mousetraps - Reviews
KIRKUS – September 2008
Adorable cartoons of mice getting caught in Rube Goldberg–esque mousetraps add a deceptively lighthearted note to Maxie's high-school tale. Maxie's first day of her junior year is shaken up when Rick, her old best friend from elementary school, appears in her classroom. Rick hasn't been seen since seventh grade, when he was brutally beaten by middle-school gay bashers. Now that he's back, Maxie isn't sure if she wants to renew the old friendship. High school is complicating all of her relationships, and it would be nice to have something simple again, something like her childhood playmate. Funny, though—Rick seems different these days. The bullying and homophobia hasn't stopped, but his reactions to it have changed. Sometimes he even frightens Maxie. What seems at first like a pat high-school story of friendship and coming-out becomes something very different, challenging assumptions about gender, sexuality and friendship. Rick and Maxie's thought-provoking story, juxtaposed against Hauser's renderings of Maxie's cartoons, is unexpectedly, richly dark, with no easy answers. Both chilling and sweet.
Bay Windows – September 2008
Meet the Judy Blume of the post-Columbine generation and her charming protagonist, Maxie. High school is tough for Maxie for all the usual reasons; not to mention that she's overshadowed by her athletic best friend and her over-achieving cousin, Sean, who's already taking college classes and is secretly dating the school's star football player. Maxie seems fated to be unnoticed until Rick returns to her high school. Close friends in elementary school, Maxie dropped Rick in sixth grade when she saw he was fated to be the kid everybody picked on. After a nasty bullying incident, Rick transferred to another school. Now he's back and assigned to be Maxie's lab partner in chemistry. This simple twist of fate unleashes an inexorable chain of "37 significant events," like the Rube Goldberg style mousetraps that Maxie doodles in her sketchpad, that leads to a troubled new friendship, mysterious pranks at school, and Maxie's first real kiss. Along the way Schmatz sensitively delves into alternative families, homophobia, and the ugly side of the unspoken class system of adolescence. It's rare to find an adult who writes young people so well; Rick's unhappiness and Maxie's confusion are handled with deft authenticity that is a pleasure to read, even when painful.
Reviewed by Brian Jewell