The Strangers (The Greystone Secrets #1)

The Strangers (The Greystone Secrets #1)
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Release Date
April 02, 2019
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Told in alternating points of view from Chess, Emma, and Finn Greystone, Greystone Secrets #1: The Strangers is the beginning of a new page-turning adventure that examines assumptions about identity, family, and home, from the master of middle grade suspense.

What makes you you?

The Greystone kids thought they knew. Chess has always been the protector over his younger siblings, Emma loves math, and Finn does what Finn does best—acting silly and being adored. They’ve been a happy family, just the three of them and their mom.

But everything changes when reports of three kidnapped children—who share the same first and middle names, ages, and exact birth dates as the Greystone kids—reach the Greystone family. This bizarre coincidence makes them wonder: Who exactly are these strangers? Before Chess, Emma, and Finn can question their mom about it, she takes off on a mysterious work trip. But puzzling clues left behind lead to complex codes, hidden rooms, and a dangerous secret that will turn their world upside down.

Editor review

1 review
Unsettling Speculative Fiction
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
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The Greystone kids have a good life, even if their father died when they were all very young. Chess remembers him, since he was four, but Emma and Finn have no memories. Their mother is very supportive; she's able to work from her home office in the basement and be there to provide after school snacks. When there is a report on the news that three children in Arizona have been kidnapped, their mother is oddly affected. When they realize that the children have oddly similar names, the very same birthdates, and even look like them a bit, even Finn worries a bit. It's even more alarming when their mother claims that she needs to go away for business for an undetermined number of days, and leaves them in the care of Ms. Morales, who worked on the PTA with Ms. Greystone, and her daughter, Natalie. Ms. Morales often lets women in troubled home situations stay with her, so Natalie isn't too surprised, and she reluctantly goes with the children to their house to feed their cat, since Ms. Morales is highly allergic. While back home, the children find their mother's cell phone and a letter, and start to try to decipher clues she has left about her disappearance. When the group manages to go into her basement office and finds a tunnel that leads them into another house in a nearby neighborhood, they know that things are not right and they have to figure out what has happened to their mother. The answer is both shocking and unbelievable, and leaves them with more questions than solutions. It also means that they have to try to save their mother in the next book. (No title or publication date available.)
Good Points
Haddix has a knack for very innovative ideas for science fiction related fantasy. I am always caught by surprise by the direction her plots take. The Greystone children are solid characters with distinct personalities, although I thought Natalie had a bit more spark. The fact that Ms. Morales helped out women having domestic issues was quite interesting and added a layer of believability to the children staying with her with few questions asked.

If you have reads who love series, Haddix is a great choice. The Missing series has seven books, as does The Shadow Children series, which my daughter adored. Ever since Under Their Skin and Children of Exile, reading Haddix's books makes me uneasy. I keep suspecting really weird things to happen. Or, as I put it in one of my reviews, I don't quite believe the worlds that she constructs. They are just too odd. This, of course, is why my daughter liked the books. This is actually something that appeals to children about world building; it just doesn't appeal to me!

Haddix is a local writer, so many of my students have seen her speak, and there is always a demand for her books. I was really intrigues by her notes at the end of the book about Rheta Grimsely Johnson writing "about a sad, odd, true coincidence" that inspired this story, and now I want to know what that was!
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