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Set in a tiny village in Honduras, Trueman's (Stuck in Neutral) novel is based on Hurricane Mitch and the devastation it wrought in 1998, and informed by the author's experiences teaching in San Pedro Sula in 1981-1982. Trueman explains in an endnote that Mitch was the worst storm to hit the Caribbean in 200 years: as the 13-year-old narrator, José, experiences it, Mitch is cataclysmic. Striking while José's father, older brother and sister are out on the road, the calamitous weather induces a mudslide that destroys all but two of the houses in the village and buries most of the residents. It falls to José to conquer his fear and be the man of the house. Trueman doesn't flinch from the grislier facts (in one scene, José leads a dig for groceries and finds the corpse of the grocer), but although he describes José's thoughts and reactions he stints on the sensory details. Accordingly, readers will understand the impact of the storm, while the style and the almost miraculous happy ending may insulate them from feeling too much of it for themselves. An addendum links this novel (first published in a different form in the U.K. in 2003) with the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.