While I liked his other works, Salinger's Catcher in the Rye always left me cold. Holden is such a jerk! Kaspian, however, in Kaspian Lost, is a thoughtful individual caught between conflicting (if unhelpfully sincere) versions of reality posed by the other characters, while searching out his own understanding of The Meaning of Life. Kaspian's Attitude Problem, his defense in the face of life's betrayal, is familiar to anyone who lost one or both parents at an early age. His encounters with alternative education in various guises are wonderfully, darkly comic. Grant holds the sacred cows of religion, new age philosphy, education, psycology, government committees, you name it, up to the harsh glare of both Kaspian's extreme need for honest explanations and healthy common sense and distrust of any rhetoric. What I especially love about Grant's books is that his characters are always three dimensional. Even Kaspian's stepmother, who few of us could tolerate, is trying to help him, betraying her own beliefs in sending him to AYA. The people Kaspian encounters, while representing different points of view, are lovingly drawn and interesting in their own right. The book is beautifully structured, giving equal weight to different points of view about reality. Kaspian is a child of the eighties and nineties (cell phones, computers etc), but this book and its characters could have been set in the late sixties. Certainly I recognized many of the characters! (Innana's momware hits a little too close to home!) Keeping Kaspian in the present avoids the issue of LSD and Altered States, which caused so much additional confusion for questing teens in the sixties and seventies. In Kaspian's world, drugs are firmly in the hands of The Establishment, to be avoided at all costs. I believe that Grant's ending is the only possible one, to keep the book honest, as it were. None of us have perfect fairy tale endings, but tragedy is also a luxury most of us can avoid. Kaspian's angst is understandable and not excessive, and he works away at resolving issues as best he can (which is better than a lot of us can do). All any of us can do is put one foot ahead of the other, moving forward into the unknown gift of time we possess. "Ready for whatever comes."