Levi has always looked up to his brother, Boaz, but when his elder brother joins the Marines and ends up fighting the war for three years, things between the brothers change. Levi realizes that things have changed even more than he imagined, when Boaz returns home from the war and proceeds to sit in his locked room, obsessively working on a mysterious project for hours on end and speaking to no one.
For the past three years, Levi had to deal with not only the absence of his brother, but also the concept of Boaz being a hero. Levi is tired of always being referred to as “Boaz’s brother” and has been forced to go through high school as just that. And now that Boaz is back and acting very much anti-hero, Levi isn’t really sure what his role as a brother is anymore.
When Boaz sets off a strange and secretive journey, Levi does what any little brother would do and follows him. The pair end up on an emotional walk where one learns more about the other than either imagined. Levi has never really known what to believe, in terms of whether the war is good or bad, whether he’s supposed to help his brother or leave him alone, but he knows he has to do something.
What an emotional rollercoaster with Dana Reinhardt’s latest book! Levi is a melancholy boy, but with bits of hope mixed in with his worry for Boaz. There are certainly some funny moments with Levi’s friends, Zim and Pearl, making the heaviness of the subject matter bearable. The author managed to create these amazing characters and make their emotions and dialogue feel realistic, by taking the sadness and mental hardships of Boaz and Levi and infusing sarcasm and wit from caring friends.
The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt, Wendy Lamb Books, Ages 12 and up