What is the plot of Trouble by Gary Schmidt?

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Trouble, by Gary D. Schmidt, was first published in 2008. The novel’s protagonist, Henry, comes from a rich background and is going to a prep school. He and his brother Franklin had planned to climb Mount Katahdin, which is the highest mountain in Maine. Sadly, Frankly dies after a car accident. His last words are “Katahdin”, which Henry interprets as his brother’s final wish: Franklin wants Henry to persevere with their dream and climb Katahdin.

In order to honour his brother’s final wish, Henry embarks on this journey. Henry rescues a dog, called Black Dog, who then accompanies him on his hike. In addition to the dog, Henry is also joined by three people: his friend Sanborn Brigham, Chay Chouan, a Cambodian immigrant, and his sister Louisa. Incidentally, Chay is the person, who had been accused of being the driver of the car that killed Henry's brother Franklin. Conversations with these people throughout their journey make Henry begin to think about his life and his family.

The climb up the mountain becomes therefore also a metaphorical climb for Henry: during their hike, Henry reflects on his life and begins to see it with different eyes. He is, metaphorically speaking, climbing up the mountain of his life. Just like the real climb up the mountain, these revelations about life do not come easy for Henry, and at times they are painful, for example when he begins to realise that his brother was not the person he thought he was.

Slowly, Henry begins to understand how lucky he has been to be able to lead such a privileged life due to his rich family background. He also begins to reflect on moral questions, such as the importance of forgiveness and the meaning of pain, and therefore “trouble.”

So far, Henry had lived a very sheltered and protected life, as his parents always wanted to ensure that he stays safe and does not experience any pain or any problems. However, through the conversations he has on his hike, Henry realises that what he had always taken for granted is not necessarily what’s right. Henry finally comes to understand that "trouble" simply can’t be avoided in life, in fact it is a substantial and important part that shapes and influences all of our lives.

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