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Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  5,815 ratings  ·  976 reviews
The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh shaped both brothers' lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend, Theo supported Vincent as he struggled to find his path in life. They shared everything, swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions. Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vin ...more
Kindle Edition, 465 pages
Published April 18th 2017 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Janie YES! I particularly liked the audio for the authentic pronunciation of other languages. The print accompanying the audio was a great pairing for me as…moreYES! I particularly liked the audio for the authentic pronunciation of other languages. The print accompanying the audio was a great pairing for me as well.(less)
Jen The hardcover has several pages of color reproductions, but the sections between the chapters are all in black and white, showing VanGogh’s drawings a…moreThe hardcover has several pages of color reproductions, but the sections between the chapters are all in black and white, showing VanGogh’s drawings and letters. (less)

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I have an issue with this work described as "meticulously researched." The author may have spent a lot of time on research, but in reality, the final result is not more than Cliff Notes of letters between Van Gogh brothers (just look at the list of citations). Because of the material Heiligman chose to use to present lives of Theo and Vincent, the finished work is an intimate but very narrow portrait of their relationship, often dull and repetitious. Years of letters seem to focus on endless dis ...more
Laurie  Anderson
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, ya
Heart-gripping, page-turning, and inspiring. The lives of the Van Gogh brothers are a portrait of love that endures through the darkest of times.

So, I obviously really loved this, but I'm going to tell you why literally ANYONE could love this book.

Six months ago, I wouldn't have been able to tell you who Vincent Van Gogh was. I know next to nothing about art - I lowkey thought Van Gogh was a musician I'm not even gonna lie, mostly cause I knew he got his ear chopped off at some point and I thought it had something to do with music - IDK. But, back in November a few of my friends asked if I wanted to come to a little movie theat
Krista Regester
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
We are so lucky that we can witness the love that the Van Gogh brothers had for each other through the hundreds of beautiful letters shared between them. Although Vincent was constantly enduring his chaotic mental health, was in and out of mental institutions, and had very little to live on: he just kept painting. Theo was his livelihood, his rock, and his best friend. Not only did Theo support him financially – but he also reassured him (not too often) that his work would be recognized some day ...more
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was so fascinated by the bond and relationship between these two brothers. It really shows how some of the most successful people get where they are because of the solid support system of someone else. I loved that it was Vincent’s brother Theo that was his support. It was a great read. Loving this author’s work.

My quick and simple overall: interesting read with a great brother bond.
Heiligman’s elegant biography for 14- to 18-year-olds focuses on the key relationship of Vincent van Gogh’s life: that with his younger brother, Theo. It opens in the present tense, which recurs in much of the book, and Heiligman intersperses more standard narrative chapters with short scenes that are almost like sketches. The language is highly visual throughout, inviting readers to imagine the view for themselves. The contents are arranged under headings—Threshold, Gallery One, Gallery Two, an ...more
Jenna Friebel
2018 Printz honor, my committee year!
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A magnificent work, an engrossing read.

My review can be found here, on my blog:
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first time I saw Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers in a bookstore, I knew it was a story that young readers needed. Deborah Heiligman made a name for herself eight years earlier with Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, an in-depth treatise on how Charles and Emma Darwin's relationship affected his science theories. Ms. Heiligman would bring those same powers of insight to the sibling relationship of Vincent and Theo van Gogh, a tempestuous bond between two opinionated artisti ...more
Jennifer Sullivan
Feb 10, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I am really shocked, but despite much anticipation, this book was a rare DNF for me. I really tried, but I just found it boring, choppy, had no flow, and not the least bit engaging.

And that really surprises me because (1) I almost never fail to finish a book, but I have so many demands on my time now that I just can't waste time on books I'm not enjoying unless I feel they are really significant for some reason, (2) I usually enjoy biographies, (3) it has been mentioned by some as a potential Ne
While this is written for teens, not knowing the story, it held my attention. Kudos to the book designers.. Its short chapters are grouped into sections, each with a b/w Van Gogh sketch. The cover shows the hats worn in the famous portraits of the two men. The brothers look alike such that the Theo portrait has often mistaken for the artist.

As a YA book, the sentences are reasonably simple but the vocabulary will send all but the spelling champions to the dictionary. The content, which would nev
There is no doubt this book is brilliant. Perhaps a little draggy at time. But damn, it gave me PTSD. Loving people with mental illness is brutal.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I spent part of the Thankfully Reading Weekend immersed in the lives of the Van Gogh brothers, Vincent and Theo. The two were much alike; they also had many differences. This book provides an ideal venue for doing a compare/contrast with the two.

Both brothers suffered greatly from poor health and both were dead before forty. Both were part of the art world, Vincent as an artist and Theo as an art seller. Neither had much success with women; both fell in love many times but their love was not rec
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
The Newbery reading begins with this nonfiction work. At least - I found this via a Newbery blog, but I can't imagine this will actually garner serious Newbery discussion. It centers too much on prostitutes and syphilis. Also, it's too long - and too simply written (obvious prose! present tense!) - and it's too speculative - and the author takes one of those shortcuts in discussing one of Vincent's more prolific periods, where the names of the paintings swirl across two pages in arced text. If y ...more
Really engaging and fascinating look at the life of an artist we all know but only know through some of his most successful paintings and lowest lows in dealing with his mental health. Loved the way we see he and his brother become close, as well as drift apart.

My only wish were that we saw more of the mental health issue explored, but what I loved is how Heiligman went to the primary sources -- the letters between Vincent and Theo -- to construct this story, and through that, we also know she c
Anna Smithberger
What a beautiful biography of brothers and art, pain and joy, life and death! Looking at Vincent and Theo Van Gogh, through such an artistic lens as an art gallery, is pure genius. Deborah Heiligman has created a lovely book, with poetry in the writing, and so much emotion.

I thought I knew a lot about Vincent Van Gogh—he has long been my favorite artist: I have one of his olive trees as my phone case and the Almond Blossoms he painted for Theo’s son on my iPad case. I love his color and texture,
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am taken aback that this book garners so much fulsome praise. I think it's very flawed. Overlong, as if the author couldn't bear to leave out any of the facts that she learned in her extensive research. Repetitive. Full of extraneous, deeply unimportant details, while failing to flesh out facts -- for example, about the nature and disease course of syphilis -- that are important to the story. And -- in an attempt to create an atmosphere of immediacy or something? -- narrated, for 400 pages, in ...more
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While I rate most books I read, I don't typically write reviews. This is the third book I have read on Vincent and Theo and it is far beyond anything else I have read in capturing the essence of who they were and not just a retelling of "the story" of their lives. Heiligman brings incredible insight into the relationship between Vincent and Theo and the people around them. I reserve 5 start rating for very rare books and this is one.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This «romance» or use of fiction to feel the blank biography is very interesting. It’s kind of based on letters exchange between Vincent and Theo (all of them are put together in another book, Letter to Teo, or something that I own but not have read yet) and its written in a novel way to make it, maybe, more interesting to read. We feel the time, the worries and the love of brothers. A surprisingly good book with which you will learn and have a good time!
Monica Edinger
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My starred Horn Book review here: ...more
Stevie Jo
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting! By reading this I now see Vincent Van Gogh as a real person instead of a historic celebrity! It read like a term paper or something... but that was fine for me! I really enjoyed a look into their lives!
Barb Middleton
The overall message is about two brothers that cared deeply for each other. Theo was an art dealer who funded Vincent's art career. He and Theo spent many hours discussing art and he critiqued Vincent's art helping him improve over the years. They fought. They supported each other. They loved art. This story chronicles Vincent's life and his struggles with mental illness but it is secondary to the relationship and his obsessive pursuit of being a preacher and later an artist. I found the pacing ...more
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this ARC at work, thinking that it might be interesting but not expecting more beyond learning a bit about Van Gogh and his family and maybe a bit about art. I didn't expect to read it in less than 24 hours and to absolutely LOVE it. Though the relationship between the two Van Gogh brothers was complex and sometimes thorny, they loved each other deeply. All I really knew about Van Gogh was the ear affair, but he was a very complicated and passionate artist. And Heiligman's writing st ...more
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of Van Gogh's art, and the mother of two boys, I just really loved this book about the deep love two brothers had for each other and how one did everything and anything he could to allow the other to follow his dreams.
Sometimes, books make me cry.

This is the first non-fiction book I can recall evoking that particular response.
I have never been very interested or knowledgeable about art. However, in the summer after my sophomore year, my mother took me to London and Amsterdam. While there, we visited the Van Gogh Museum (I think. I had thought it was the Riijksmuseum but looking at photos of the museums, I think it was the Van Gogh.) I had been sulking but I remember loving his "Sunflowers". Still, I wasn't particularly interested in art since my Mom shoved it down my throat. So I read this book because it won the YAL ...more
Mariana Cunha
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
✨" He himself wanted to die, when I sat at his bedside and said that we would try to get him better and that we hoped that he would then be spared this kind of despair, he said, “La tristesse durera toujours” [The sadness will last forever]. I understood what he wanted to say with those words. "

It is extremely hard to describe how much this book has touched me. It has left me with such a sense of sadness and a feeling of sorrow for the life that was Vincent Van Gogh's. It feels strange to rate w
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This is one of the best books about Vincent and Theo Van Gogh that I’ve ever read. I couldn’t put it down.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was quite fantastic.
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Deborah Heiligman has been writing for children since she worked at Scholastic News soon after college. Since then she has written more than thirty books for children and teens. Her books include picture books, both fiction and nonfiction, and young adult nonfiction and fiction. Some titles: Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, a National Book Award finalist; The Boy Who Loved Math: The I ...more

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“Who a person becomes later in life, how he lives, how he dies, cloud's people's memories of him, spinning and skewing-distorting-their portraits of him as a child. But we will draw Vincent as clearly as we can using not only impressions but also strong lines, sharp details. A picture will emerge.” 6 likes
“(D)ying is hard, but living is harder still.

—Vincent van Gogh”
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