Mark's Reviews > The Things a Brother Knows

The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt
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's review
Nov 08, 2010

it was amazing
Read from November 08 to 10, 2010

Levi is a junior in high school, and as the novel opens, his older brother, Boaz, is returning home from his tour of duty with the marines, in Iraq. Boaz has been gone for a long time (after enlisting right after high school), and has effectively cut off communication with his family. Upon his return home, those communication lines are still cut. Boaz spends all his time in his room, and Levi knows that he's working on a plan involving the computer and maps, but has no idea what it could be.

When Boaz announces that he's going to leave home for a while, to hike the Appalachian Trail, Levi knows it's a cover for some other journey. Levi, with the help of his friends, begins to follow Boaz, to try to discover what his final destination is, and what happened to the older brother who left home years before, if he still exists at all.

I have never found a Dana Reinhardt book that I didn't like. No, love. She is, for me, one of the best YA authors out there, and her work consistently wows me for the same reasons. She is a master with dialogue; the words on the page play in my head as I read, and it's as if I'm there in the middle of the conversation. Her stories are built around relatively simple plots, that reveal incredible complexity and interwoven relationships as the book progresses. And every couple of pages, she writes a sentence or phrase that makes me go back, read it again, and marvel at her craft.

There are a number of good YA books being written about the war in Iraq/Afghanistan (Myers' Sunrise Over Fallujah comes to mind immediately), but this one wrestles with the complicated issue of a soldier coming home. Perhaps I appreciate a book like Reinhardt's more, because I have a soldier in my family, who I've seen leave, return home, and leave again, like so many other families have done with their own sons and daughters. I've seen the changes that occur, and the way the notion of "home" is forever altered by that person's absence, and then their presence. This is a beautifully-written book, as all of Reinhardt's are, and I think teachers would be wise to read it, and consider how it can be used to discuss themes of family, or personal journeys; a cross-curricular unit with social studies could also benefit greatly from a book like this.
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11/08/2010 page 29
09/18/2016 marked as: read

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