Mayday is a realistic fiction that takes place in Texas. Wayne Kovoc is a spouter of facts. He does it to avoid awkward silences, to make his mom feel better about her romantic situation (aka deadbeat ex-Dad), and to impress his kind-of girlfriend. He also asks the question “why” a lot, which his Uncle Reed, back from the army, says is a useless and trouble-making question. It will only plague you, he says.


Wayne is also a runner, just like his dad, but different. Wayne likes to run because it feels good and he can think and get away from his problems for a bit. His dad runs to be a winner and rub it in other people’s faces. His dad runs away from spending time with Wayne. He runs away from responsibilities. He doesn’t show up.


Wayne’s grandfather, Uncle Reed’s father, is also in the picture. He pops in a lot when Reed is in town and bosses Wayne around because he is a wimpy Kovov and not a brave Dalton. Basically, Wayne feels like a useless errand runner for his grumpy grandpa who tells him he has to work on not being soft so he can be in the army.


Everyone is always telling Wayne what to be. Future army officer. Future track star. Has to sign up for swim camp. Tortured by watching Jane Austen and Jane Austen like movies with his mother. But things start to change after the plane crash.


The whole book is written from what Wayne’s life was before the plane crash and what it is like after. Uncle Reed dies after re-enlisting (for the third time) and on the plane ride home from the funeral, Wayne and his mother are in a crash and some of the only people who survive. Grandpa moves in to help take care of Wayne’s mom and essentially babysit him.


This is the After and Wayne has to deal with it. What happens during this time is the real story. This is a slow moving, thoughtful, spare, dryly humorous and authentic look at life and death and the spoken word and what is all means. What is the real meaning of a hero. Who cares about “why” anymore? It’s a plagued word.


This book will be popular with future Gary Schmidt readers and kids who like to ask the question “why.” I didn’t initially want to read this book. Yes, I saved it on my Goodreads because it looked interesting. I picked 4 books for realistic fiction for my YS book group to pick from. And every kid picked Mayday (I didn’t think they would; it’s kind of fun to be surprised by them all the time). Even from the first sentence, I thought, this is going to be a great book and have some great things to talk about. And it didn’t disappoint. Although, I think I will never fly in a plane again.