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Brother, Brother Hardcover – July 30, 2013
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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
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Written for the "younger set", but I have shared it with octogenarians where I live, and it was enjoyed by all.
The writing is dang good. It is. Really. It's a different style to what I'm used to. It's slow, contemplative, but very beautiful. The imagery is good. I love the way the author welds words into new pictures. But the paragraphs were long. And there were info dumps occasionally. Sometimes my eyes wanted to skim and I had to force myself to read every word. I was having a slow day, so I didn't mind reading it all in one sitting. BUT. If I had been having a fast day, I wonder how long it would have taken me to finish this? A while, I think.
Characters? We all knooow how much I love characters! And I DID love these ones! Brother is the narrated (in 3rd person, which I loved, because it was a very intimate 3rd person). His real name is "Billy Grace", but since all his relatives are called Billy, he goes by "Brother". It was a bit weird at first, but you know what? I really like it. It's an awesome name. (Also my niece calls my nephew "brother" for his name. Hit home.) I love Brother's personality! He's very sweet and kind. But he's flawed. He's 18 and he has responsibilities (like looking after his friend's 5 year old brother, because his friend went AWOL for a while). Does he look after the 5 year old? Yes. Does he chaff about it occasionally. Yes. But he's got manners and he's kind and he doesn't presume. I like a bad boy in literature as well as the next deluded bookworm, buuuut, the good boy always wins.
Brother's twin on the other hand? I wouldn't call him a "bad boy", though he was the opposite of Brother. More like: a royal jerk? Yup. That fits.
Kit was adorable and sweet! I loved how she was all brains, but very go-getter, and very smart and in-touch with reality. I loved her slow romance with Brother. I loved how they were friends and then they liked each other, and then the loved each other. It was sweet. Jack (the 5 year old) was adorable! And very much a five year old! I think the author did an impeccable job with all the characters. I fell in love with them all, and the writing, and I was very much engrossed in the story.
Plot? Slow. It's a bit of a road trip (Brother going to find his twin). A bit of a romance (Kit helping Brother after his car breaks down). Definitely a family affair (Brother meeting his jerky politicians family and learning the truth about his past). A lot of beach. I like the beach.
I enjoyed this book, but honestly? It's sweet, but just a little too confusing. I can deal with the slowness because I was after a relaxing read. But, it was SO easy to get confused as to who was related to whom and why and who was illegitimate but still related because of so-and-so doing such-and-such. The writing is beautiful. The story is sweet. Buuut, I'm sitting here thinking, "Hmm, that was interesting" with not many other thoughts. I would have liked the book to evoke more feels from me, but that's probably my fault. Either way: I love good writing.