Title: The Trouble with Lemons
Author: Daniel Hayes
Paperback: 192 pages
Source: Chicago Public Library
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
His real name was Tyler McAllister, but he felt like a lemon. He had allergies and nightmares, and was the only unfamous person in his family. But one night he and a friend went swimming at the forbidden quarry, and Tyler found a dead body. Now he’s determined to find out who killed the man and why they’re now after him….
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
The Trouble with Lemons is a young adult/middle grade coming-of-age mystery from the early 90’s. It focuses on Tyler McAllister, a boy who suffers from severe allergies; his mother just had them move to a small town, because she thinks it’ll be better for him; however, his mother and brother are both in the movie business, so his primary caretaker is a nanny, which causes some concern with the principal of his high school when he starts getting into trouble as he attempts to solve the mystery of how a man was killed.
The story itself is interesting and I think that the feeling of being out of place will remain true to pre-teens and teenagers, no matter what decade they live in. When Tyler sneaks out with his friend at night, they witness a body being dumped, so Tyler feels responsible to find out how that man ended up being killed and who did it. However, he gets himself into trouble because he’s a new kid and doesn’t always get along very well with the students at his school. This novel has some nice action moments and also deals with social/emotional stuff, like feeling out of place and trying to make friends.
The basic premise holds true today, but I don’t think that this book ages well. The characters use a lot of 90’s slang, which might make it difficult for today’s teens to connect with the characters, because it’s hard to see themselves in them. However, it’s a quick and easy read, hits on some interesting concepts, and has the intrigue of the mystery, so it could serve as a decent gateway book if the slang stuff isn’t a problem. This is something I would have picked up as 10 or 11 year old if I had nothing else to read; decent, but not an amazing, must-read book.