Tom Avery, My Brother’s Shadow, (2014), 191p
This was a surprise find. I picked it up, amongst a few other titles, on my walk around work the other day. Seriously, the teen paperback section is my favourite place to browse. Usually though, the books I go for are ones I’ve heard about from friends or are by authors I’ve read before. Luckily this gloomy blue cover caught my eye.
I absolutely adored this book. It was a quick read at just the right time – I have been trying to slog my way through an advanced copy of a book I couldn’t stomach. This title is filled with Kate Grove’s hauntingly beautiful black illustrations that complement Avery’s prose.
My Brother’s Shadow is told through young Kaia’s eyes. There is little description of Kaia herself and her story is slowly pieced together through the pages. Kaia is stuck and stunted – socially, mentally, and emotionally. Her family has suffered a tragic loss, her classmates exclude and torment her, and her teacher has quickly run out of patience with her behaviour. A wild boy shows up at her school, mute and dishevelled. Slowly building a relationship with this stranger, Kaia comes to terms with her troubles, learns to heal and let go, and begins to sow the seeds of her future.
Throughout the story, there are quotes and rules I kept wanting to share. I am having a hard time narrowing it down! Here are my top picks.
“We should be allowed to stare at everybody. We should be made to stare at everybody. All these incredible people and we’re not allowed to stare. It’s madness.” (p.8)
“Rule no. 7: Memories are like a cup of tea – don’t hold on too tight.” (p.149)
Seriously, I can’t get enough of this book. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to start all over again. It’s dark and hauntingly beautiful and perfect. The writing itself is relatively basic and it might even be considered a children’s book, except for the content.
This time, I did judge a book by its cover and I’m so glad I did. I really hope that everyone will pick it up and give it a chance.
Happy reading –