From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—Alex and James are only one year apart, but the distance between these brothers is vast. James, a popular and talented senior, awaits news about his early admission to Duke, playing tennis and going to parties with his buddies on the weekends. Alex, a junior, is confused and disoriented after having chugged Pine-Sol at a party, lost all of his friends, and found himself secretly dating Nathen, one of his brother's best pals. The backdrop is Tuscaloosa, AL, where Alex knows his emerging sexual identity will never be accepted, and James fears he will be stuck forever if Duke turns him down. The boys wander their way through the school year fulfilling family obligations, befriending an odd and lonely neighbor boy, and navigating their way back to mutual affection after a period of mild estrangement. Wilson's novel offers a look inside the minds of both brothers, allowing readers to experience their parents, their school, and their town from two distinct points of view, confident and fearful, indifferent and melancholy, impatient and reflective. Some readers may feel that the book has a bit of a slow start, with some of the relationships only beginning to develop after page 100. They may come away wishing to have gotten to know the central characters more deeply, although the relationship between Alex and Nathen is touchingly realistic. In the end, this book may appeal to teens who are grappling with decisions about the future, the frustrations of family, and the choices that relationships require of us.—Nora G. Murphy, Los Angeles Academy Middle School
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*Starred Review* The story is told in alternating chapters by two brothers. James is a popular, smart senior who awaits his acceptance letter from Duke. But there are several dark folds in his smooth life. He is in the process of breaking up with Alice, whose only attraction for him was their sexual relationship. Then there’s his brother. What was he thinking when he swallowed Pine-Sol at a party? Alex is a junior and still trying to find his way back from an impetuous, potentially deadly act. His friends are gone, but one of James’ buddies, Nathen, gets Alex involved in running, and slowly Alex sees there might be a life left for him. Soon it becomes clear that the life he wants is with Nathen, who returns his feelings. The writing, which at first seems straightforward, almost bland, becomes increasingly layered as it dispenses its information, gradually and ever more movingly. Adding both texture to the story and an element of mystery is the inclusion of a young neighbor boy, whose problems draw both James and Alex to his side and to each other. This is a strong debut, and Wilson shows admirable control of a complicated story that in less-accomplished hands could have spun out of control. The structure literally allows readers to see both sides. Grades 9-12. --Ilene Cooper