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Half Brother Hardcover – September 1, 2010
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From School Library Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
I write to express my admiration for Mr. Oppel's skill and gifts as a writer. I read about 30 to 50 middle school and YA books a year at my grandsons' requests. I enjoyed Percy Jackson; the Hunger Game Series; and many books dealing with wizards, magic, witches, and other fanciful characters set in the past, the present and the future. I have read books dealing with war, disease, physical handicaps, broken homes, bullies and other tragedies and problems.
I find books about regular children involved in the process of becoming thoughtful and feeling adults very hard to come by.
Half Brother is that book. The parents are real. The portrayal of adult life and academia is real. But, most of all, the hero is real. Although I am female; he seems to be like the boys I knew and know.
He has his feet on the ground; is respectful but not cowering; intelligient but not arrogant; self confident but capable of being humiliated. Filled with delicious humor and quick thinking, he is independent but not rebellious. His attachment to and love for the animal who comes into his life surprises him as well as the reader.
This attachment illustrates the qualities that make a boy into a man. He feels, but he also acts. And, he acts in a positive way and achieves results. This boy acts for the welfare of something outside himself. He does it without the aid of magic or the intercession of the gods.
I especially like the contrast in the story between the false and fanciful *love* he has for the gorgeous teen aged girl who uses him and the mature *real* love that he has for the animal.
This is the best book I read in the last two years. Both my 13 year old and my 11 year old grandson liked it. I hope that it finds its way onto Amazon's *best book* selections.
Mr. Oppel is a first rate writer (and that is understatement).
Four generations of the family live together, and some "absent" characters, who have affected the lives of family members, "live on" through objects that they have left behind with the family. Barnum and Fred often seek a connection to the past by reading the last letter their great-grandfather sent from Greenland before he vanished. Vera's best friend Rakel leaves Vera with a treasured ring, just before she is taken during the Nazi occupation of Norway. Barnum buys a ring for his first girlfriend, and it has meaning for him even when he is middle-aged. "We do not disappear without a trace," Barnum learns. "We leave a wake that never quite disappears, a gash in time.Read more ›
Lars Saabye Christensen
Arcadia Books Ltd. 2003
This is a book that cries out to be read. It is, as one reviewer has put it, 'unputdownable.' It is a big book - in the English translation 764 pages.
Read it please. Read it please because it is a masterpiece in two of the three essentials of all great literature and art. It creates in the mind a sense of place and a sense of time.
Read it please because, like Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' or Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind' it will stay with you for the rest of your life.
If you have read Dostoevsky - remember Raskolnikov in 'Crime and Punishment.' If you have read Knut Hamsun's 'Hunger' - remember the streets of Oslo. If you have read neither - do so now. Recall if you can the spirit of Lauren Bacall and Bogart's line "I'm not very tall either. Next time I'll come on stilts."
It is rare that a translator can capture the spirit of the original. Kenneth Steven has achieved this. In a translators note he writes: 'All translation is a compromise; there are inevitable losses in bringing a richly woven literary text from its native tongue. It is not the thousands of words that pose the difficulty, it is the single words that have been chosen by the author for their resonance, for their resemblance to other words in the language, their interplay with different elements of the text.' A poet, Steven has isolated the words and given them their resonance.
The story begins with a rape and ends in an enigma. On page 659 you will read: "Tme and place; time seen from the place, and, not least, the place seen through time."
Action there is - this is no 'Waiting for Godot.' But when you have read from cover to cover you will be left with the words: "To tell you all this.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Book club choice for 11 + 12 year old girls. Slightly advanced reading level, but a great story. My daughter loved it.Published 2 months ago by beth
Well written and an enjoyable read. I am sure that I have not yet gotten the author's message, if there is one, beyond life in a family. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Bob C.
I've read many young adult books with my son over the past few years and this is easily among the very best. Read morePublished 23 months ago by MJA