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My Brother's Keeper

by Patricia McCormick

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1706154,983 (3.55)1 / 1
Thirteen-year-old Toby, a prematurely gray-haired Pittsburgh Pirates fan and baseball card collector, tries to cope with his brother's drug use, his father's absence, and his mother dating Stanley the Food King.

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Good book. ( )
  EdenSteffey | Mar 14, 2018 |
Reviewed by Long Nguyen for TeensReadToo.com

A brother's love is a brother's love: one of the many truths to life and family. In MY BROTHER'S KEEPER, Patricia McCormick tells a sharp tale of the often too-complex relationships between brothers, and the unspoken feelings and subtleties of such a fragile thing.

Toby idolizes his big brother Jake. Jake's the typical big brother figure; cool, funny, charming, and the school baseball team stud. But things don't always turn out to be as great as they appear on the surface. Internally, there are struggles. Toby's father has left their family to search his fortune elsewhere and has seemed to cease all contact with them. His mother is distant and has taken a stance of resignation. And to complicate the situation even more so, inevitably past Toby's endurance, Jake has fallen into a rut he cannot get out of. The world of drugs.

Now Jake doesn't seem to be around as much anymore. He leaves the house, returning in the middle of the night faded and disillusioned, leaving the responsibility up to Toby to clean things up, make everything seem fine, and to smooth away the creases.

But when Jake finally goes too far, will it be up to Toby to decided how to handle things? Will he rat his brother out, breaking the cardinal rule of the big-brother/little-brother relationship, trespassing on regions of brotherhood Toby has never touched upon?

McCormick creates a completely believable and down-to-earth narrative of internal struggles in the mind of a growing boy's problems in not only the broader family unit, but also the profound nuances of the complicated structure of kinship between siblings. Not only that, but she manages to keep it lighthearted at the right moments, as well as comedic at others.

Cheers to P.M. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 12, 2009 |
Toby worships his older brother, Jake, but when Jake starts to get involved with some shady friends, Toby isn't sure if he should confront him or cover for him. Things come to a head when Jake gets caught drinking and driving. Very gritty and realistic. Some portrayals of drug use. ( )
  ShellyPYA | Jul 3, 2007 |
: Divorce can leave families torn and broken. After the pain can come a desperate process where you just want to hold your family together. So what do you do when your older brother starts getting high all the time and wants you to cover for him? Is it more important not to rock the boat so your family-on-the-edge can stay afloat or is it more important to force your mom to confront the problem. And hey, shouldn’t your mom figure this one out on her own anyway?
Thirteen year old Toby Malone finds himself in exactly this situation. After his parents split up, he notices changes in his family. His mom cries more and stresses over bills she can’t pay. Toby tries to help out by weeding through the mail and disposing of the bills at school so his mom doesn’t have to see him. Toby’s little brother Eli just wants to pet his cat. The cat in turn just wants to run away, keeping Toby busy trying to lure Mr. Furry back home. Jake, his older brother, spends more and more time stoned and asks Toby to cover for him. Toby does for awhile, but wonders where he should draw the line. Why doesn’t his mom realize that Jake is always “out”, has suspicious new friends, has dropped out of sports, and is stealing money from the family? As the plot progresses, Toby feels more and more out of control as he strives to be the glue holding the family together. ( )
  Omrythea | Jun 21, 2007 |
Toby’s family is still quietly reeling over his father’s sudden departure a year ago. Jake, Toby’s older brother, has gone from being a baseball superstar to a drug user who has lost interest in school. Toby is a cover-up artist, caring for Jake when he comes in late at night and making excuses for his frequent disappearances. Although he wants the truth to come out, he is not quite sure how to handle it and doesn’t want to further burden his tired, overwhelmed mother, who somehow fails to see what is happening to her family.
Toby turns to the counsel of Mr. D., owner of a sports collectibles shop who doles out Yoda-like advice, for help in navigating both the mundane and difficult problems that he faces. Toby is finally able to find his voice and talk about the load he is carrying only after circumstances make the problems he’s been privately dealing with public.
McCormick constructs believable and complex characters, successfully weaving difficult issues with day-to-day teen concerns about fitting in and dealing with members of the opposite sex and infusing a sense of humor into the novel. Toby’s voice rings true as he navigates everyday high school life and the strain of the changes in his home life. The complexity of Toby and Jake’s relationship is captured. Despite Toby being infuriated by Jake’s behavior, there is still a strong bond between them. Readers will enjoy this novel and grow to care about Toby, Jake, and the rest of the Malone family. ( )
  ewyatt | Jan 15, 2007 |
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Thirteen-year-old Toby, a prematurely gray-haired Pittsburgh Pirates fan and baseball card collector, tries to cope with his brother's drug use, his father's absence, and his mother dating Stanley the Food King.

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