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Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  2,916 ratings  ·  627 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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L It was lovely on audio, but I sense I missed some great illustrations... that was a bummer... but I'd go to the internet and look up paintings the…moreIt was lovely on audio, but I sense I missed some great illustrations... that was a bummer... but I'd go to the internet and look up paintings the book discusses so I got a sense of it. (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…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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4.08  · 
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 ·  2,916 ratings  ·  627 reviews


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Cait • A Page with a View
The book does a pretty great job painting a clear picture (ha I crack myself up) of Vincent van Gogh's relationship with his brother Theo and the dynamics of their whole family. And it really does cover a LOT... like there's a timeline, info on relatives, and even sketches & paintings included.



But I think I was kind of expecting more of a novelization than this ended up being. It felt more like nonfiction meets a present tense narrative if that makes any sense. But it was still entertaining
...more
Tatiana
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.
Kate
5/5stars

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
...more
Suzanne
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.
Rebecca
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
Julie
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: http://bookgargoyle.blogspot.com/2017....
Jenna Friebel
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
2018 Printz honor, my committee year!
Josiah
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
Beth
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
Louise
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: artists, biography
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
...more
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,
...more
Kelly
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
...more
DaNae
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.
Billy Zildjian
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.
Monica Edinger
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My starred Horn Book review here: http://www.hbook.com/2017/04/choosing...
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!
Tracey
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
Lisa
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.
Joan
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
Erica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anna-Maria
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was quite fantastic.
Jennifer
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
...more
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
Kelly Magro
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-non-fiction
IF YOU EVER WANT TO WRITE A BIOGRAPHY IN PRESENT TENSE, DON'T. There were parts that did flow and were very immersive, but the sudden shifts to critical art analysis were jarring.

I did like one sentence.

"I keep making what I can't do yet in order to learn to be able to do it."

This book makes me want more, but not in a good way.
Mariah
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely, stupendously gorgeous! Vincent and Theo makes me reconsider what a historical biography can be, which is the highest compliment I can give it.
Deborah Heiligman's background is in Children's literature and that certainly shows - she approaches her subjects with a frankness and empathy that you rarely see outside of that genre. Her choice to tell the narrative in present tense is, frankly, a genius stroke.
Kimberly
Deborah Heiligman paints an intimate portrait of Vincent Van Gogh and the heartbreaking relationship he had with his brother Theo. They were so close that a portrait of Theo was often mistaken as a self portrait of Vincent.
Heiligman takes us on a journey with the brothers as they explore art, God, and art again. Vincent is happiest living a Bohemian lifestyle, hardly eating, sleeping outdoors, walking for miles, while Theo prefers the bright lights of Paris. It's clear that Vincent suffers from
...more
Kathy
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This award-winning book tells the story of the well-known artist, Vincent Van Gogh, and his lesser-known brother, Theo. Borrowing heavily from the hundreds of letters that the brothers wrote to one another throughout their rather brief lives, Heiligman paints a picture of the unbreakable bond that allowed Vincent to develop as an artist. This is a YA book, and the writing and sentence structure, at times, seems rather simple. However, the story of these brothers is not. Throughout Vincent's long ...more
Amber
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a copy of this book through Goodreads' First Reads program. Prior to receiving this, it never occurred to me that there would be a genre of "YA non-fiction". It isn't any less factual, and it doesn't stray from adult topics, so what "YA non-fiction" seems to mean here is that the book has short chapters (2 or 3 pages a piece, in the ARC I had). Don't let the page count intimidate you, this is a quick read, and not stuffy in tone. This well-researched book paints a much more complete p ...more
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Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers 1 4 May 13, 2018 10:51PM  
Mock Newbery 2019: August Read - Vincent and Theo: The Van Gough Brothers 23 200 Sep 07, 2017 02:50AM  
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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
“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.” 3 likes
“(D)ying is hard, but living is harder still.

—Vincent van Gogh”
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