Anne's Reviews > When You Were Older

When You Were Older by Catherine Ryan Hyde
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's review
Dec 24, 2011

it was amazing
Read in January, 2012

When You Were Older is set in the months after 9/11 - September 2001 and is the story of two brothers and their struggle to survive and thrive in what has become a strange new world for them. Russell is the younger brother, he bailed out of the small sleepy Kansas town that he was brought up in when he was just out of school. Living in New York, working in the World Trade Centre, his life couldn't be more different to that of his brother Ben. Ben still lives in that small town, he is mentally disabled and lives his life to a set routine, day in, day out. Russell receives the call to tell him that his mother has died on the morning of 11 September, the phone call makes him late for work, as he rushes about trying to make up lost time, he glances out of the window and sees smoke pouring from one of the towers of the World Trade Centre. It is at that moment that his life changes forever.
Russell goes back to Kansas. Ben needs to be cared for, but Ben doesn't even understand that their Mom is dead.
This is a truly moving story, the writing is remarkable and enchants the reader. Russell has his faults, and Ben can be incredibly frustrating but Catherine Ryan-Hyde paints a picture of siblings that love and care for each other. It is especially poignant when the reader learns just how Ben came to be brain damaged, and how that incident changed the balance of their relationship.
The character of Anat; an Eygptian girl who works in a local bakery, and helps Russell through this confusing and emotional time is beautifully drawn.
This is a love story, and a story of family dynamics. It is a story about people's reactions to life-changing events, how many people feel the need to have someone to blame. It's about injustices and hate, but also about friendship and loyalty.
A very satisfying read that will stay in my mind for quite a while.
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