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My Brother's Keeper


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About the Author

To research "Sold," Patricia McCormick traveled to India and Nepal where she interviewed the women of Calcutta's red-light district and girls who have been rescued from the sex trade. She is also the author of the acclaimed novels "Cut "and "My Brother's Keeper."


Gr 7-10-As with Cut (Front St, 2000), McCormick has tackled a tough subject in language teens can grasp. Toby Malone is a high school freshman whose life is slowly unraveling. His father has left the family and his mother is struggling to make ends meet. His older brother, Jake, is slowly slipping into drug and alcohol abuse while his younger brother, Eli, is bewildered by all of the sudden changes. Toby cleans up after Jake's drunken illnesses, pulls bills out of the mail and throws them away before his mom can see them, feeds Eli whatever he can find in the refrigerator, and signs his own permission slips for school. But while his mother deals with her depression by dating, she is oblivious to the obvious signs of distress in her family. Things come to a head when a policeman finds Eli, injured from a bike accident, and brings him home safely, only to meet up with another officer bringing Jake home from a minor car accident involving drugs and alcohol. Jake is sent to rehab as a part of his probation, and Mom's attention finally focuses back on the boys. The story ends too quickly with the mother's sudden decision to take charge again. Still, this is a story that will grab readers' attention. It is written in a realistic and engaging manner and is a good discussion starter. It explores the different roles played out by the family members and how it is impossible for one person to hold things together, no matter how hard he tries.-Diana Pierce, Running Brushy Middle School, Cedar Park, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

The author of Cut writes a second absorbing novel exploring the issue of an adolescent's self-destructive behavior. Thirteen-year-old Toby Malone, who narrates, watches in despair as his older brother, once a star athlete, travels down a path of ruin, becoming increasingly involved with drugs. Not wanting to upset his recently divorced mother, who is already overwhelmed with problems, Toby remains silent about Jake's addiction, and in effect becomes his brother's "keeper," making excuses for Jake when he disappears into the night and comes home stoned. When Jake's friends make a mess in the house, Toby cleans it up, and when Jake quits the baseball team, Toby doesn't tell. The one time Toby attempts to take control of Jake's problem by flushing a bag of marijuana down the toilet, Jake retaliates by stealing and selling Toby's most prized possession. Tension mounts as Jake's activities get wilder and more dangerous, inevitably causing emotional pain for everyone in the family. Throughout the book, McCormick honestly and dramatically expresses Toby's frantic desire to restore normalcy in his broken home. She credibly develops a plot that demonstrates why playing the role of enabler ultimately does more harm than good, and invites reflective thought and meaningful discussion. Ages 10-up. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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