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Brotherhood Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (September 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670014397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670014392
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #601,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-9–The Civil War is over and Richmond, Virginia, is occupied by Yankee soldiers. A secret society of men and boys has begun meeting with the stated mission of protecting Confederate widows. Fourteen-year-old Shadrach Weaver follows his older brother to a gathering and ends up being initiated into the Ku Klux Klan. Shad likes the feeling of brotherhood the group provides. On an errand for his family's tailor shop to the house of a local teacher, Shad, who suffers from dyslexia, makes arrangements to trade his sewing skills for reading lessons. He is surprised when the teacher arranges for him to work with African Americans; he knows he has to keep this secret, but it's not long before the existence of the school is discovered. Shad's brother, a loyal KKK member, becomes involved in a plot to bring the school, along with its students and teachers, to a violent end. Shad must decide between remaining loyal to his family and the brotherhood or warning the people for whom he has developed feelings of friendship and respect. Debut author Westrick does an excellent job of re-creating post-Civil War Richmond and giving voice to the resentments of its inhabitants. She explores the implications of brotherhood and demonstrates how right and wrong can be so intricately entwined that whatever choice one makes can result in disaster. A welcome addition to classroom discussions.–Cary Frostick, Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In 1867, two years after Lee’s surrender, a conflict is just beginning within 14-year-old Shad, a poor white boy living in burnt-out Richmond. On the one hand, he longs to learn how to read and grasps at his only chance, secretly taking lessons with freed slave children. On the other, he follows his older brother’s lead and joins the Klan. Though he mistrusts his reckless brother, still he longs to become a man. Clearly a clash is inevitable. Westrick’s first novel is ambitious in focusing on the losing side’s point of view after the Civil War. In order to remain sympathetic, if not heroic, Shad must choose a different path from his fellow Klansmen, whose opinions make painful reading at times. This first novel seems carefully constructed rather than organic. Most characters are portrayed as primarily good or evil, though readers will catch glimpses of the moral ambiguity and social complexity of Reconstruction. The appended author’s note focuses mainly on that period in the South and on the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Grades 6-8. --Carolyn Phelan

More About the Author

A.B. Westrick is the daughter of Southerners who sought to leave the South behind. Raised in Pennsylvania, she later moved with her husband to Virginia and spent hours walking Richmond's brick streets, wondering how her ancestors fared during and after the War Between the States. Brotherhood grew from these wonderings.

A.B. Westrick has been a teacher, paralegal, literacy volunteer, administrator, and coach for teams from Odyssey of the Mind to the Reading Olympics. A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Divinity School, she received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of the Fine Arts in 2011. Brotherhood is her first novel.

A.B. Westrick and her family live in Richmond, Virginia. Visit her at www.abwestrick.com.

Customer Reviews

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I believe this book has a wider range than middle school students.
Mary Miley Theobald
There is so much to love about this book--and the end left me with many unanswered questions in a story I'd love to see continued.
Rosemary Rawlins
He struggles with who he was born to be and that struggle displays the very limits of his courage - even to him.
LAS Reviewer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rosemary Rawlins on September 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Brotherhood, by A.B. Westrick, is a powerful lesson in situational ethics; how our upbringing, world events, and personal ties shape us, and how we struggle to distinguish right from wrong in our own minds and hearts. Brotherhood is about a young boy coming of age, questioning his conscience, wondering who to trust; it's about family, country, history, race, prejudice, injustice, and so much more. I found myself immediately hooked on the story of the young Shadrach Weaver, trying desperately to balance his need for approval with his search for acceptance in a post Civil War era simmering in hatred and violence. Shad's explosive relationship with his dominant older brother in his fatherless household, and his blossoming relationship with a well-educated freed slave named Rachel challenges him to see race, women, himself, and the world in a new way. There is so much to love about this book--and the end left me with many unanswered questions in a story I'd love to see continued.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LAS Reviewer on September 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a remarkable personal journey that will hold readers enthralled.

I didn't expect to be held enthralled. In fact, I didn't expect to enjoy Brotherhood. The South during the reconstruction period seems singularly lacking in charm: in fact, Brotherhood has a lot of anger which colored everyday life-anger and hatred and not only for people far away.

The story features characters that annoy - even the main character proves frustrating. Shad isn't a bad fellow (for a fourteen year old, living in the turmoil of conflict and its aftermath) but he isn't sterling either. He does not magically rise above the rampant racism around him, but he does question it. Shad's grandfather and even his mother, don't only accept what is, but are so actively on the side of hatred that it's almost too much. And his brother has a life based in horrendous cruelty.

Shad's sense of justice kicks in not only when someone is cruel to him, but when he sees the shady side of people, even people that are supposed to uphold the law. He is not okay with cruelty, and that sets him aside and ultimately (for this reader) is what makes this book worth reading. He does meet, and admire a young girl named Rachel, who is not white. However, he was a not-quite-hater even before he ever met her. We are touched with his desire to impress and later, protect her, but I think, ultimately, it was not she who changed him. He seems to have recognized something within himself, although he is limited by those around him.

He struggles with who he was born to be and that struggle displays the very limits of his courage - even to him.

Brotherhood is a surprisingly evocative story of a young man living in a time that somehow couldn't quite shape him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Miley Theobald on September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I confess, I don't read Young Adult books. I purchased this to donate to a middle school library and thought I'd read the first few pages before I dropped it off. Well . . . I couldn't put it down. I had to read to the last page to find out how it ended.
The book is set in 1867 in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, where a dirt-poor widow is struggling to raise her 2 sons. Her husband went off to war reluctantly and was killed in battle. Her boys, 14 and 17, suffer from the lack of a father--as did many children of that time. The oldest, a hothead and bully, joins the KKK and relishes its evil. The youngest joins too, to be grown up like his brother, and regrets it when he finds out it is more than a club to protect Confederate widows. He, like others in the book, must learn how to walk the dangerous line between his beliefs and the perceptions of others.
The author does a magnificent job portraying average people caught up in events beyond their control during a time of unspeakable hardship, hunger, and violence. She presents the period accurately with none of the textbook-sounding passages that bog down so many historical novels. The writing is superb!
I believe this book has a wider range than middle school students. High school students would find it relevant and enjoyable too. Get a copy for your student and read it yourself!
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Format: Hardcover
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I'm sad not to have seen more reviews of this though not surprised as it is a historical novel, which tends to be one of the less popular genres in YA :( Its setting is the Reconstruction period and I can only think of two other books I've read involving that period. And it features the Ku Klux Klan in a somewhat positive light, which is historically accurate for the characters and settings but is difficult to read from a modern perspective.

Our main character is Shadrach Alfriend Weaver (quite a mouthful, right?), more commonly known as Shad, a fourteen year old, would-be tailor living with his widowed mother and older brother in war torn Richmond around 1867, bristling under Yankee domination. As a teenager, Shad is struggling with growing up, particularly what it means to be a man and he eagerly jumps at the chance to join a brotherhood of men committed to protecting Confederate widows and orphans as well as representing Southern pride. But when that "pride" turns violent, it challenges that which Shad knows to be right such as threatening his adventures in helping newly-freed slaves gain an education.

The big draw from the outset was the setting. The Civil War itself has proven far more popular for novels and I can see why but it makes me sad that this one is less well-represented because there's so much material and so many stories waiting to be told. It's also tricky though in choosing who to portray. Here we see some poor Southerners (who might be called white-trash) who still retain immense pride in their heritage and now have to confront such a different climate.
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