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Review: The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt

Title: The Things a Brother Knows
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Year Published: 2010

Genre: YA Fiction
Pages: 242
Rating: 5 out of 5

Geography Connection (my Google Reading map): East coast, USA

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my high school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Boaz is back. Finally, Levi's older brother, Boaz, has returned. Boaz was a high school star who had it all and gave it up to serve in a war Levi can't understand. Things have been on hold since Boaz left. Levi's family has endured three long, difficult year. With the help of his two best friends, Pearl and Zim, Levi has fumbled his way through high school, weary of his role as little brother to the hero, waiting for life to return to normal. But when Boaz walks through the front door after his tour of duty is over, Levi knows there's something wrong. Boaz is home. He's safe. Still, even if nobody else wants to see it, Levi knows that his brother is not the same.

Levi begins to wonder if maybe things will never return to normal. Maybe the waiting will never be over. Then Boaz leaves again, and this time Levi follows him, determined to understand who his brother was, who has become, what he's been through, and how to bring him home again.

Review: When I said I was in the mood for a good YA read my colleague Sherri said, "You have to read The Things a Brother Knows." She seemed so certain. So sure. So I checked it out. Wow. Thank you Sherri!

This book is a quiet study in family, the effects of war, friendship, and life.

The characters are so real and believable. They are a "normal" family with no major issues to cloud the story, which is very effective. The reader concentrates on the people, not their personal issues (except for Boaz, but that's the whole point of the book). Levi is the kind of teenager that I enjoy talking to. He's introspective without being irritating, he's a bit goofy, he's interested in people, and he cares.

The setting is Boston and the eastern states, but it really could be anywhere in the US. Families are affected by the involvement of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan (the book isn't clear where Boaz was stationed), but their lives have gone on without too much impact. The characters aren't at all sure how they feel about the war, which is nice. This isn't a pro-war or anti-war book.

The plot and action of the book are slow and steady with the last few pages packing a HUGE gut-wrenching punch that ties it all up in a very believable way.

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