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What They Always Tell Us
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What They Always Tell Us

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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  2,677 ratings  ·  233 reviews
JAMES AND ALEX have barely anything in common anymore—least of all their experiences in high school, where James is a popular senior and Alex is suddenly an outcast. But at home, there is Henry, the precocious 10-year-old across the street, who eagerly befriends them both. And when Alex takes up running, there is James’s friend Nathen, who unites the brothers in moving and...more
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Published August 12th 2008 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nancy
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

What They Always Tell Us is a very simple, quiet story told from the perspective of two brothers who live in Alabama. James is a high school senior. Even though he’s smart, has lots of friends, and is on the tennis team, the only thing he wants is to go to college and leave Alabama. Alex, a junior, is James’ younger brother. While he’s not as smart, athletic, or as popular as James, he has other qualities that James lacks – Alex is sensitive, caring, generous and compas...more
Matt
In the interest of full-disclosure, let me say at the outset that I'm a gay teenager (18) and can't think of a strong enough word or words to describe how much I LOVED this book.

I actually finished reading it about a week ago and wanted to let it settle in before I reviewed it. Over the past week, I have been
thinking about this book over and over.

I've been reading a lot of fast-paced novels that are more adventure-oriented, so this was a totally refreshing change of pace. This is a very charac...more
Thomas
What They Always Tell Us is about two brothers, James and Alex, who are unlike each other in many ways - James is outgoing and popular, while Alex is compassionate and reserved. After Alex attempts to take his life at a party, James is left wondering what went wrong. Then, Alex meets James's friend Nathan, and the two form a friendship that could grown into something more.

This book is simple and stunning. As of May 2011, even after two years, it remains one of the best books I've ever read and m...more
Jo
I’m going to shamelessly steal an idea from this book to describe how I feel about this story.

You know when you’re younger (Or, OK, when you’re not so young if you’re anything like me) and you’re on a set of swings in your back garden? And I’m not talking about the swings in the park that are properly secured with cement or whatever they use. These are the ones your dad put up in the summer when he’d had a bit too much Carlsberg and he was drunk on burgers.

And, while you’re mid-swing, there’s th...more
Jennifer
Apr 16, 2008 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
This is a great book dealing with depression, suicide attempts, and sexuality. However, it deals with so much more like compassion, relationships between brothers, social expectations, rumors, fear, and social posturing. I am not sure I can really describe exactly how well this books delves into a young persons psyche just trust me it does it well.

Told in alternating chapters between 2 brothers (1 year apart) dealing with the attempted suicide of the younger brother. This book is NOT heavy han...more
Rory
This is probably the best book I have every read about growing up--at least the most similar to how I grew up. It is a story of two brothers who both have to deal with repercussions of one night and the trickle effect it has on their entire life from high school to the family to themselves.

I think what I loved most was that neither brother was a simple character but they each surprised me in how clearly well rounded they were. I think it is very hard to not to rely on high school stereotypes but...more
Ami
I bought this book several years ago -- before I knew about MM romance and just got acquainted with LGBT fiction. I haven't had the chance to read it because well, no romance made it less appealing. Until now, when I got bored with what published MM titles could offer ...

This story is WONDERFUL. It follows the life of two brothers:

Alex, the younger one, who feels alienated and lonely and different. His friends look at him as loser, after he drank a bottle of Pine-Sol at a party. And James, the...more
Stephen
This book seemed to me to be an Ordinary People for a more self-aware age. Only in this case the brother is not lost but only almost lost. It seems that every author has a coming out story that they want to tell and this does indeed include one as well, but its more than than just that. Here the whole struggling with one's sexuality issue is actually more subdued and not the be-all and end-all that its presented as in so many other stories.

Being told from the viewpoint of both the younger and t...more
William Cooper
What They Always Tell us is told from two point of views. Alex, the younger brother, who is a social outcast after he makes a mistake at a party and James, the older brother, who is mister popularity. The boys used to be close when they were younger, but ever since Alex's mistake, they've grown apart. The novel follows the two boys relationship with each other and Alex's friendship with Nathen - his brothers friend - and Henry, the strange boy across the street.

I absolutely loved this novel! It...more
TheBookSmugglers
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers: HERE

What They Always Tell Us is a wonderful, beautiful story about two brothers who were once very close, then drifted apart and slowly find their way to each other. The story is told in alternating chapters from each brother’s perspective and it follows both throughout this one year in their lives.

Alex is the youngest one, the quiet, solitary brother who’s been dealing with the repercussions of drinking Pine Sol one day at a party and ending up in hosp...more
Tyler Goodson
Some books take you somewhere outside yourself, someplace you couldn't have imagined. Other books know you. This is one of those. I've been to these places, I've known these people. They are me. I started this morning, and if this review were written in a letter the paper would be tear stained and the ink would be running I've cried so many times. Reading this was restorative, like I've been watching one long episode of Oprah, only better. I'm ready to live my best life now or something. Read it...more
Reyn
Normally when I read books I cycle through about five or so until I find one that really consumes me. I will then focus on that book until I have exhausted its pages and digested the plot. With this novel, it took me a while to finally admit to myself that I was engrossed in the story. Such is the subtlety of this brilliant novel that you are pulled in immediately and only later does it hit you that you have been invested all along.

Alex is a quiet boy who shatters his family's complacent securit...more
Helene
This book is truly beautiful, a must read for teenagers especially but for everyone really. The author takes up some really heavy subjects and handle them extremely well. There are so many things going on in this book but it never felt artificial. It's just everyday life told by the brothers Alex and James.
Alex struggles to come back from depression and suicide attempt while being shunned by almost everybody.
James struggles with his own feelings of shock, anger, helplessness and fear because of...more
Karel
It's hard for me to read books about bullying, so I'll have to put a disclaimer right here that I'm not at my most objective (insofar as a person can be objective when expressing an opinion) about it.

The book revolves around two brothers: Alex, who survived an attempted suicide some time before the beginning of the book and became a social outcast and his brother James, a popular senior who's guilty for not being there for Alex and at the same time disdaining him as a dork.

The true strength in t...more
Mel (who is deeply in love with herself)
Un.For.Get.Ta.Ble.

Stunning in its sheer simplicity.

This is one man who understands-really UNDERSTANDS the life of a teenager.

No other author I'm aware of could have done it better. Martin Wilson manages to convey teen life, and not only conveys it, but also enhances the reader's comprehension of it.

I'm (luckily) still a teen myself, and I have never come across a book which has *nailed* a teenager's experience in this contradictory world so well.

Martin Wilson-I applaud you.




(Hopefully he's worki...more
Will Walton
The more I replay these scenes through my head, the more miraculous to me they seem. This book is an understated achievement. A true joy.
T.S.
As I told my friend just as I had finished it, I found this book to be "probably the most boring good book I've ever read."

Okay, maybe that was a little ridiculous of me. But seriously, the plot-line is... Undramatic.

But I loved it. The smooth, quiet writing. The flawed characters and their struggles in growing up. This is a true coming of age novel.

Alex and James are two teenage brothers, both struggling to survive in the small town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Told in the third person, alternatin...more
Ralph
Oct 07, 2009 Ralph rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Ralph by: Thomas
What They Always Tell us is told from two point of views. Alex, the younger brother, who is a social outcast after he makes a mistake at a party and James, the older brother, who is mister popularity. The boys used to be close when they were younger, but ever since Alex's mistake, they've grown apart. The novel follows the two boys relationship with each other and Alex's friendship with Nathen - his brothers friend - and Henry, the strange boy across the street.

I absolutely loved this novel! It...more
Leslie Nicoll
This book had been on my radar for quite a while—it was a Lambda Literary Award nominee in 2008 for Young Adult/Children’s Fiction—but I never got around to reading it. However, as I noted in my review of I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth The Trip, there were three essays at the end, one of which was written by Martin Wilson. That spurred me on to picking up What They Always Tell Us and I am glad I finally did.

As I suspect everyone who reads my reviews knows, young adult books are my guilty ple...more
Cole Millions
I quite enjoyed this book. I took it with me when I went up to visit family in a small town where internet was scarce and cell phone reception was virtually non-existant. This book was able to carry me through the weekend. There was a nice juxtaposition between the two brothers, and although the randomness of the inclusion of the character Henry irked me a little, I got over it when I saw him as a vehicle to drive the brothers relationship forward.

The plot moved forward at a nice steady pace, w...more
N.S.
Last year Alex's friends started changing, developing new interests, but he did not. When they realized it they abandoned him, and he became a pariah at school.

He once was close to his brother James, but James doesn't understand why his brother has suddenly become social poison, and his anxiety manifests as anger. Their parents are clueless.

When a strange kid named Henry moves into the house across the street, his odd behavior (and even odder home life) give Alex something to focus on besides...more
James
This is a well written tale of changes in the lives of two brothers as they cope with the demands of high school life, friendship, and developing their own identity. Alex is a Junior who is recovering from an apparent suicide attempt that has left him without any friends. Even his older brother, James - a Senior, has abandoned him and is dealing with his own issues of girls and whether he will be accepted at Duke University. The story covers a year in their lives which determines if they each wi...more
Olivia
It took me about five chapters to get into this book but once I did I was off and running. I loved the fact that I could feel Alex's nervous anxiousness and his fluttering happiness. James was an enigma but I found himself liking him immensely, especially once he started acting like a brother to Alex. Henry was a fun character too, I was sad to see him leave, even though I think he's going to get his happy ending.

I was sad to see this book end because it didn't give me a true feeling of closure...more
natercopia
It started out slow and at times boring. Ok, it was kind of boring throughout. But what I gathered is that sometimes boring stuff makes you contemplate on the complicated emotions humans possess. There was a sense of restlessness right at the beginning of the story when an accident at a party cause a drift between brothers, Alex and James. You could already sense the confusion and frustration that was facing the older brother, James. I felt that the 'cold' treatment he was giving off to his brot...more
Sarah Maddaford
I wanted to know more when I finished this book. For one thing, I wanted to know whether Nathan and Alex kept up a relationship. If not, I wanted to see how Alex found someone else and continued to be happy. I really enjoyed the characters although Tyler confused me a little. There was some language including two kinds of f-words, a little bit of sex though nothing explicit, but no real violence aside from James hitting someone. The story applies to more than just gay teens because more people f...more
Manda
This is a really simple and quiet story, but one that touched my heart and hit home in a lot of ways. A lot of Alex's story was painfully familiar, in his loneliness, his awkwardness, and his sense of always feeling like the odd one out in a group. There's more to feeling like a misfit than not liking the same things as other people, and it can feel like something deeper, like you're just not on the same wavelength as everyone else, or that being a part of the group just doesn't come as easily t...more
Bee
After a kind of slow start this book actually proved to be pretty good. It’s a young-adult book that kind of takes a different look on family, friendship and love…with two brothers in focus. ´

Alex and James are only one year apart in age, Alex 16 and a half and James about one year older, but they might as well be living in different universes. James is a varsity Tennis player, he’s always at a party or hanging with his friends…or whatever girl he’s currently dating. He’s cool and popular and pr...more
Brian
All those people who carry on about what a wonderful book this is? They're wrong.

(view spoiler)...more
Claire Scott
I'm maybe getting a little burned out on probably-heavily-autobiographical-MFA-theses-set-during-the-author's-undisclosed-teen-years that get turned into YA fiction because of the teen protagonists. There are a lot of them, especially queer ones, and I can't help but feel that these authors don't read YA... in part because they so often privilege their own voice over the characters' voices.

Anyway, there were things I liked about this book -- many of the boys' interactions felt authentic, and th...more
Jordan Leonard
What They Always Tell Us
Martin Wilson
Delacorte Press, c2008, 291 pages, $15.99
Social Issues in homosexuality for YAL
ISBN 978-0-385-73507-0

In What They Always Tell Us, Martin Wilson illustrates the unique relationship that exists between two brothers. James and Alex are going through high school intent on simply making it through. With Alex’s recent social flop of drinking cleaning solution at a high school party resulting in complete rejection from Alex’s friends, James must try and finish his...more
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