I read this book with my daughters over our vacation, while my husband listened in from the next room. It was not like any of the books we’ve read together before. For one thing, the main characters in this story were boys, and we typically read about girls, for whatever reason. This was a tough read — tough because at times the main character, Kieran, was almost brutally mean to his cousin Bon, whose life has already been incredibly harsh. (This does not even include what the bullies at school do to Bon.) When Kieran’s parents take Bon in after many unsettled years traveling with his unbalanced Mom, we expected him to show compassion for him. Instead, we are given what is more likely closer to the truth; the sudden and intense meanness that can happen when the life you know and take for granted is upended.
We hoped for a happy ending, but it was a long way coming. There were times when our reader (me), had to stop and pull herself together. My husband would ask me at night, Geez, can’t that kid catch a break? And I would think, yes, this is how it is for some kids; this is something we need to know about, a way to teach empathy to our children. So, it wasn’t pretty, but it was, in the end, wonderful. There are light-hearted moments, mostly provided by Kieran’s younger sister Gina, and there are moments of wistfulness and beauty, provided by Bon, and his friend Julia, and even Kieran, in the end. It is a deeply moving book, it will make you think twice when you notice a kid you might consider different, or odd. It will make you appreciate their difference, and then wonder at their limitless potential.
Check out the girls’ review at 60 second summaries, on Betwixtgirls.com