From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—After the death of his identical twin brother, 10-year-old Danny runs away because he believes he reminds his distraught parents of the tragedy. The book is divided into three parts: "Thinking," "Doing," and "Being," with each one reflecting a different stage of grief. "Thinking" details Danny's tumultuous feelings as he leaves his house, makes his way to the train station, and travels to an island where the family once vacationed. In "Doing," he becomes consumed with the act of stacking discarded bricks on the beach and befriends a man who suffered a similar loss. Finally, in "Being," the boy stops blaming himself for his brother's death and returns home. The full story of Finn's death is not revealed until the end, but hints dropped along the way pique readers' curiosity. The protagonist's voice is authentically childlike, as seen in the amusing vignettes of his family history, but also descriptive, using frequent metaphors to convey his unique point of view. Despite his running away, Danny's love for his family is tangible, making his full-circle journey and ultimate reunion all the more poignant.—Emily Rodriguez, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL
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*Starred Review* "Danny or Finn?" It's a familiar question at school, around town, and even at home, because Danny and Finn are identical twins. The question takes on metaphorical dimensions in this haunting story, in which the death of one twin leaves the other behind. For the survivor, now 10, the world has become wobbly and unsafe. He runs away from home, trying to remove the painful reminder his face bears for others: "I couldn't stand seeing them forget for a second, then remembering as soon as they saw me over and over and over." He journeys to the island where his family, his whole family, last vacationed together, and there he looks for a way to make sense of his guilt and grief and to come to terms with who he is and who he isn't. Immersing readers in an idiosyncratic point of view through British slang and narrative quirks (such as lists and footnotes),first-time novelist Kelly, an American who lives in England, pens a powerful novel about moving on, about being yourself no matter how hard, from the realistic perspective of a smart, funny kid who is just waking up to the larger world. Though sad, this is an ultimately life-affirming book, full of poignant insights into how people try to protect themselves and each other from tragedy, and how they cope when they fail. Krista Hutley
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