I have to admit, it took me quite a while to warm up to this story, but in the end it proved gripping, emotional and powerful. "Brother" is, at 11 years old, the youngest in a spiritual family of military men and ranchers in rural Oregon. His mother left years earlier, his brothers are off in the military or boarding school, and his father has just been called up for active duty in Iraq. That leaves Brother and his grandparents to keep it all together, and they're not as young as they used to be.
Brother takes comfort and inspiration from a variety of people: his grandparents, a traveling priest, other ranchers and email & IM contact with his brothers. The hard realities of ranching and war are portrayed in ordinary and extraordinary ways. Along the way, Brother figures out what role the future may hold for him. This is coming of age in a very different America from the one I know.