45 pages 1 hour read

Peg Kehret


Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2004

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Situational Awareness

Throughout the novel, a lack of situational awareness allows Matt to be abducted and prohibits others from recognizing and acting on obvious signs to rescue him. Anita Sholter has repeatedly drilled efficient precautionary measures into Bonnie and Matt to prevent and avoid dangerous situations. When Denny first approaches Matt inside the school, Matt refuses to leave with him. To Matt, Denny is a stranger, and “[he’s] not supposed to go anywhere with someone [he] do[esn’t] know” (22). However, Denny manages to convince Matt to leave with him once he admits he’s Matt’s father and provides information about Matt’s life and the people and pets in it. After Matt’s disappearance, Bonnie and Anita are skeptical about the theories of the school officials and police officers. Bonnie disputes each claim, certain that “Matt never got in trouble at school, and he wasn’t allowed to go anywhere with a friend unless Mom had arranged it. Certainly he wouldn’t have boarded the wrong bus; they had ridden bus number two all year” (28).

Situational awareness is not only the responsibility of the individual but also of the community. From the beginning, Peg Kehret identifies several flaws in Jefferson School’s security system that, given more awareness, could have prevented Matt’s abduction.