From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up–Brother Grace, 17, grew up with little to call his own beyond the good sense and uncommon courtesy taught by his grandmother Mem. Waking up after a night of hard drinking with his buddy Cole, a friend from the rest home where both work and from GED classes, Brother finds Mem dead in her bed. He's not shocked that she finally succumbed to cancer, but he is floored by what she has circled in the newspaper: an image of the son of the North Carolina senator she hates. The teen is identified as Gabriel, but the face staring back at Brother is his own. He starts off on a journey to Winter Island, ancestral home of the Graysons where Mem grew up as the housekeeper's daughter, with his dog, Trooper, and Cole's five-year-old brother, Jack, in a Buick from his elderly neighbor. The Buick doesn't make it that far, but an amazing rest-stop rescue by Trooper puts beautiful, smart, and practical Kit in Brother's path, the perfect ally at the ideal time to get him where he needs to be: the island with all the answers, though they won't be easy to get from the great and powerful senator, his family, or his political minions. More about human nature and relationships than action, this prince-and-pauper tale will have readers poised to learn the truth with Brother, rooting for him. This uplifting underdog story, featuring actual dogs, will draw thoughtful readers with its well-wrought characters and themes of family secrets, romance, and virtue.–Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
On the day his beloved grandmother dies, 18-year-old Billy “Brother” Grace discovers an unexpected legacy: an identical-twin brother who has been raised by wealthy, powerful, and corrupt Senator Grayson. His twin, Gabriel, has material luxuries but not the warm, loving upbringing Brother received. Reckless, dissolute, and unhappy, Gabe is now in a drug-rehab program. Brother sets out on a road trip to the North Carolina island home of the senator, accompanied by his loyal dog, Trooper; Jack, the 5-year-old brother of his best friend; and Kit, a beautiful, capable, feisty young woman he meets on the road. Despite a plethora of plot elements, this is a gentle, character-driven work that rides on the compassionate nature of the protagonist, set in a richly described landscape of sand and sea. Carmichael makes a powerful case for the influence of a loving family, be it blood relatives or family of choice. She has an ear for teen dialogue and captures the teasing energy of flirtation as well as the jocular, determinedly unsentimental exchanges of young men. With a road trip, family secrets, and romance, there’s a pleasing fullness and symmetry that should draw readers. Grades 8-12. --Debbie Carton