By Jennifer Brown
Expected publication July 10, 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Kendra has long felt overshadowed by her older brother Grayson and his OCD. So, when he returns home from treatment just as Kendra gets caught doing something she really shouldn't have, it feels like the last straw. Without a second thought, Kendra snatches up Grayson and the two of them set off for California and the old best friend they hope to find there.
I had previously read Hate List by Brown and found it a very compelling and well-written read. I had heard praise for her second novel as well, though I haven't had the chance to read it myself. So I was pleased to spot ARCs of her newest at Midwinter and happily grabbed one. What I liked most about this book: the focus on a difficult sibling relationship. I know I have said before that I am joyous when I see depictions of opposite sex siblings as friends (I'm thinking of Into the Wild Nerd Yonder here) because there just don't seem to be many examples of that. But, the sibling relationship in this book completely resonated with me. For the first 21 years of my life, I, too, felt overshadowed by a difficult older brother, one whose problems seemed to suck all the joy out of our family and garner all the attention. As a result, I tried desperately to be the opposite - the perfect child, the normal one. Sibling relationships are some of the most interesting dynamics we have to explore as people and, I believe, they are especially fraught during teen years. How many times did I, like Kendra, poke fun at my brother and his difficulties while inwardly feeling guilty and hating myself for doing it? How many times did I, like Kendra, feel like no matter what I did, it wasn't going to be enough to balance out my brother? While perhaps not everyone who reads this book will have had a similar experience, this is what makes Brown's books successful and great to recommend to teens - they are so relatable. Even if you don't have an obsessive-compulsive brother, you might have a brother and your relationship might not be perfect. Even if you're an only child, I think there is something in this book with which you could relate. Brown leaves the ending ambiguous and I think that will definitely appeal to readers. I like she is a gifted author of contemporary YA and I will definitely be recommending this book to my readers.
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.