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My Brother's Keeper Paperback – September 15, 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of Cut writes a second absorbing novel exploring the issue of an adolescent's self-destructive behavior. Thirteen-year-old Toby Malone, who narrates, watches in despair as his older brother, once a star athlete, travels down a path of ruin, becoming increasingly involved with drugs. Not wanting to upset his recently divorced mother, who is already overwhelmed with problems, Toby remains silent about Jake's addiction, and in effect becomes his brother's "keeper," making excuses for Jake when he disappears into the night and comes home stoned. When Jake's friends make a mess in the house, Toby cleans it up, and when Jake quits the baseball team, Toby doesn't tell. The one time Toby attempts to take control of Jake's problem by flushing a bag of marijuana down the toilet, Jake retaliates by stealing and selling Toby's most prized possession. Tension mounts as Jake's activities get wilder and more dangerous, inevitably causing emotional pain for everyone in the family. Throughout the book, McCormick honestly and dramatically expresses Toby's frantic desire to restore normalcy in his broken home. She credibly develops a plot that demonstrates why playing the role of enabler ultimately does more harm than good, and invites reflective thought and meaningful discussion. Ages 10-up. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-10–As with Cut (Front St, 2000), McCormick has tackled a tough subject in language teens can grasp. Toby Malone is a high school freshman whose life is slowly unraveling. His father has left the family and his mother is struggling to make ends meet. His older brother, Jake, is slowly slipping into drug and alcohol abuse while his younger brother, Eli, is bewildered by all of the sudden changes. Toby cleans up after Jake's drunken illnesses, pulls bills out of the mail and throws them away before his mom can see them, feeds Eli whatever he can find in the refrigerator, and signs his own permission slips for school. But while his mother deals with her depression by dating, she is oblivious to the obvious signs of distress in her family. Things come to a head when a policeman finds Eli, injured from a bike accident, and brings him home safely, only to meet up with another officer bringing Jake home from a minor car accident involving drugs and alcohol. Jake is sent to rehab as a part of his probation, and Mom's attention finally focuses back on the boys. The story ends too quickly with the mother's sudden decision to take charge again. Still, this is a story that will grab readers' attention. It is written in a realistic and engaging manner and is a good discussion starter. It explores the different roles played out by the family members and how it is impossible for one person to hold things together, no matter how hard he tries.–Diana Pierce, Running Brushy Middle School, Cedar Park, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; Reprint edition (September 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786851740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786851744
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,246,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Imagine that your brother one of the most prominant young athletes throws it all away for drugs. That is the problem that Toby faces in My Brothers Keeper. Jake is the best athlete in town and maybe even in the city, he is great at baseball and other sports but Toby becomes suspicious when he hangs out with the wrong people and he starts changing. He does not care about anything anymore and gets all mopey. When Toby flushes a bag of Jakes Marijuana down the toilet Jake sells Tobys most prized posession to get money for the drugs back. To see if Toby can help Jake go back to his old self you have to read this good book.

I thought that this book was good because it showed very good real world problems that can be happening every day. Having your stuff stolen and then sold is something many people have to go through because of how addictive drugs can be. People are careless about everything else when it comes to drugs and this book is a great example of how careless they can really be. This book is such a great example of how people can change because of such a silly thing like drugs and I believe that people whould put time aside to read it

I would reccomend this book to teenagers because it can help show them how dangerous experimenting with drugs can be. The book shows what a person will do to get drug money and also the repercussions of what happens after your able to get the money. I think that if teens who are thinking about using drugs read this they will choose to stay away from them because of what happens. I would also reccomend this book to people that like dramas and people that like books where a family member has to help another overcome a bad time of their life.
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Format: Hardcover
My Brother's Keeper is the story of a single parent family consisting of mom and her three sons: Eli who is slightly strange, has a bike called Tonto and a female cat called Mr. Furry; Jake, who has fallen into "bad company," decided that his beloved baseball is uncool and started using drugs; and finally Toby, a 13-year-old with grey hair and whose best friend is the local shopkeeper called Mr. D (who also happens to be a pensioner).

It is Toby who takes it upon himself to try and hold his family together after his alcoholic father left. He does so by covering up for his older brother Jake and hiding his mom's bill because he knows she can't afford to pay them. Unfortunately Toby's best intentions don't always work out quite to plan and before too long, the family nearly enters meltdown.

Patricia McCormick has succeeded in bringing to the fore the problems faced by teens today with regard to the availability of drugs and the hassles they can bring to a family. She also manages to touch upon the breakdown that can occur when one parent leaves, with no regard for the rest of the family and the emotional turmoil and the further problems it can lead to.

However, as good as the story was and as touching and likeable Toby appeared, the book seemed to be lacking a depth that would have allowed the reader to get more inside the world of the disintegrating family.

The book is aimed at younger teenagers, so this may be the reason for the apparent surface nature of the drug abuse, but a great opportunity was missed to investigate and explore the sheer destructive nature of the problem at hand. I feel that the message could have been put across more clearly if the story had continued with "what happened next."

Armchair Interviews says: Overall My Brother's Keeper was an easy, likeable and touching read, but it was lacking some depth.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mine loved it. In fact they read it in one sitting, laughing and smiling even though it was kind of a tough subject. (Younger brother who idolizes older brother takes action when older brother slips into drugs...) If I hadn't read - and LOVED! - CUT, Patty McCormick's first bestselling book, I might not have been so trusting. But CUT was a fantastic book, the kind you can't wait to tell your friends about. My then 13-year-old daughter and her friends devoured it in one week. Same thing with MY BROTHER'S KEEPER. Stick it in your kids backpack for summer camp. They'll be pleasantly surprised.
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Format: Paperback
A brother's love is a brother's love: one of the many truths to life and family. In MY BROTHER'S KEEPER, Patricia McCormick tells a sharp tale of the often too-complex relationships between brothers, and the unspoken feelings and subtleties of such a fragile thing.

Toby idolizes his big brother Jake. Jake's the typical big brother figure; cool, funny, charming, and the school baseball team stud. But things don't always turn out to be as great as they appear on the surface. Internally, there are struggles. Toby's father has left their family to search his fortune elsewhere and has seemed to cease all contact with them. His mother is distant and has taken a stance of resignation. And to complicate the situation even more so, inevitably past Toby's endurance, Jake has fallen into a rut he cannot get out of. The world of drugs.

Now Jake doesn't seem to be around as much anymore. He leaves the house, returning in the middle of the night faded and disillusioned, leaving the responsibility up to Toby to clean things up, make everything seem fine, and to smooth away the creases.

But when Jake finally goes too far, will it be up to Toby to decided how to handle things? Will he rat his brother out, breaking the cardinal rule of the big-brother/little-brother relationship, trespassing on regions of brotherhood Toby has never touched upon?

McCormick creates a completely believable and down-to-earth narrative of internal struggles in the mind of a growing boy's problems in not only the broader family unit, but also the profound nuances of the complicated structure of kinship between siblings. Not only that, but she manages to keep it lighthearted at the right moments, as well as comedic at others.

Cheers to P.M.

Reviewed by: Long Nguyen
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