Inge's Reviews > The Things a Brother Knows

The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt
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's review
Aug 19, 10

bookshelves: young-adult
Read from August 16 to 19, 2010

"So what's it like having him back?" she asks.
"I don't know yet. He wasn't really back long before he left again...and I guess I'm still sort of trying to figure out who he is, like who he is now, and if that's going to be who he'll always be, and if that means we'll all always be different, and if that's the case, can that be okay" (p. 179).
Levi's brother Boaz has come back from the Marines, only, he's come back as person no one in the family really recognizes. Though the Marines have given him a clean bill of mental health, Boaz holes himself up in his room, barely talks, and has become very secretive. Levi knows there's more to Boaz than what's being revealed. Rather than just blindly accepting Boaz's condition or turning his back on him, Levi goes the distance to try to understand what has happened to his brother. By checking his brother's computer activity and talking to his fellow Marines and ex-girlfriend, Levi very slowly starts to put the pieces back together.
The Things a Brother Knows deals with the issues of a Marine's life after he returns home from the war, as well as the feelings of the family members who were left behind. One of the most gut-wrenching scenes deals with the guilt Levi's mother feels when Boaz returns. She knows she's lucky that Boaz is alive, especially when so many families lost sons and daughters, but she is disraught about his mental suffering: "I know I should be happy. I should feel relieved... We *are* lucky...I know that. I know there are mothers everywhere, all over this country, all over this world, who would give anything to trade places with me. Who would love the chance to cry because they're worried about their sons. There are mothers lost in the wilds of their own grief, who miss the days of worrying...I know worrying is far better than grieving. But, God help me, sometimes I don't know the difference. I can't separate the grief from the worry" (p. 109).
This is a loving and realistic story of the power of love and family. While there are still missing pieces of the puzzle at the end of the novel, it's a hopeful novel. While it's unclear as to what extent Boaz will return to his former self, you can be sure that Levi will never turn his back on him.

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