As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

January 11, 2012

THE ALDOUS LEXICON TRILOGY, by Michael Lawrence, 2003

What if someone else was living the life that should have been yours? When, one bleak February night, Alex Underwood dies in a terrible train crash, the life of her fourteen-year-old son Alaric begins to unravel. But two years later, on the second anniversary of his mother's death, the still-grieving Alaric stumbles into an alternative version of his world. A world in which Alex survived the accident. In this reality everything seems just about perfect - but for one thing. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Sarah Perry, children's & young adult writer, librarian

For an engaging read to challenge your perception of reality, I highly recommend the Aldous Lexicon trilogy by Michael Lawrence. Book one, A Crack in the Line, introduces us to Alaric Underwood. He’s living a miserable teenage existence since his mother, Alex Underwood, was killed in a train accident. Alaric and his father deal with their grief by letting their family home, Withern Rise, fall into disrepair and disorganization.

When Alaric’s father, Ivan, goes out of town to pick up Kate Faraday, the woman who will serve the vacant female caretaker role in their home, Alaric wanders into the closed off room that was his mother’s favorite and discovers a beautiful carving of Withern Rise that his mother had crafted. He’s filled with intense sorrow and desperately wishes things were as they used to be. Suddenly, his hands, still holding the carving, begin to tingle. The tingling morphs into excruciating pain and the next thing Alaric knows, the room is no longer dusty and dark. Withern Rise is clean and beautiful again. Before he can wonder how this could have happened, he finds himself face to face with someone who looks just like him. Same eyes. Same nose. Same crooked front tooth. The only difference is that the face belongs to a girl, Naia Underwood, the only child of Ivan and Alex Underwood and Naia is demanding that he leave her home before she tells her mother he’s broken in.

A Crack in the Line begins an exciting and thought provoking exploration of the age-old question, “What if?” This universal question, spun with Lawrence’s master storytelling skill, pulled me right in from the first sentence. After you close the book, the ideas explored in the series stay with you, the sign of a truly remarkable book. For me, this trilogy quickly became an all time favorite which I’ve come back to enjoy several times. I really can’t say enough good things about it but I’m not the only one who thinks it’s a fantastic series. A Crack in the Line was nominated for the prestigious Michael L. Printz Award and the American Library Association recommended it as one of the year's best books for 12-18 year olds. I have to admit, I was older than that when I first read them, shall we say, twenty something? So there’s definitely crossover appeal as well.

Do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy of these books. You never know, an alternative version of you might be reading them at this very moment.

To learn more about the author, visit

I had the pleasure of interviewing the author for my blog last October:
Market: Young Adult
Language: Mild
Sensuality: None until the final book, where there is an attempted rape. It’s a very brief scene and the attempt is not successful.
Violence: Moderate, again a few brief scenes.
Mature Themes: death of a parent, alternate realities, an attempted rape, some brief violence

Book formats:


Alice said...

sounds very intriguing. Thanks for the review.

Anonymous said...

Wow--this series sounds really terrific! And I'm excited to read your interview with Michael Lawrence!

Sarah said...

Thanks Alice and Kim. I really do LOVE these books.
PBS recently aired a special about alternate realities and how scientists believe they're real. After reading these books, and seeing that special, my mind is officially a good way. :)