Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12
- Grade: 8 to 12
- Reading age: 12
Sixteen-year-old Sid barely remembers his birth mother and has no idea who his father was. Raised on an idyllic island by loving foster parents, Sid would be content to stay there forever, drawing, riding his bike, hanging out with his friend Chloe and helping out with Fariza, a newly arrived foster child. But when a stranger named Phil arrives on the island with disturbing news about his birth family—including a troubled younger brother—Sid leaves all that is familiar to help find the sibling he didn't know existed.
What he discovers is a family fractured by mental illness, but also united by strong bonds of love and compassion. As Sid searches for his brother, gets to know his grandmother, and worries about meeting his biological mother, he realizes that there will never be a simple answer to the question, Am I my brother's keeper?
About the author
Sarah N. Harvey is the author of ten books for children and young adults. Some of her books have been translated into Korean, German and Slovenian, none of which she speaks or reads (although she is trying to learn Italian). Her novel The Lit Report has been optioned for a feature film. She will not be in it. Sarah lives and writes in Victoria, British Columbia, where one of her goals is to get her heels to the floor in downward-facing dog. Visit www.sarahnharvey.com for more information.
- Short-listed, Stellar Award nominee
- Commended, CCBC Best Books
- Commended, Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year
- Short-listed, Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize nominee
- Commended, TriState YA Review Group Book of Note
"An absolute gem of a book about what makes a family a family as well as friendship, love, tolerance and so much more...As a coming-of-age book, this is a winner...Highly recomended."
TriState YA Book Review Committee
"Realistic, moving, and paints a wonderful picture of nontraditional families."
Southwest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries (SWON)
"Because of its great characters this story is multidimensional, realistic, and human, yet also relatable, optimistic, and bright."
YALSA YA Galley Teen Review
"Harvey's expert pacing of Sid's story is slowly hypnotic. Her characterization is top notch. She patiently reveals their personalities. Chloe, in particular, is a delightful supporting character who adds power to the novel. These characters are well constructed, uniquely defined by their actions and speech, and eminently engaging. Harvey does not shy away from the reality of difficult situations and faithfully depicts Devi's mental illness, Wain's troubled existence, and Fariza’s thaw from the chilling events that brought her to Sid’s life. An excellent read, put this book in the hands of fans of Louis Sacher's Holes."
"Harvey does a good job crafting her characters. Sid is believable as a loner artist with a soft-spot for the downtrodden."
"A moving story about the bonds of family...This is a highly engaging, high interest novel that addresses tough family issues. The reader easily empathizes with Sid as he grapples with tough decisions."
Library Media Connection
"A quiet but moving story about the different forms family can take...16-year-old Sid has grown up happily with foster parents on an island of Canada's west coast, an evocative setting that Harvey (Death Benefits) paints with care."
"Harvey does a beautiful job balancing the story's many plot threads, while creating realistic, compelling characters. Identity, mental illness, social security (and insecurity), racial concerns, and recovery from trauma are all themes that surface throughout the novel without ever overwhelming the strong, skillfully told story."
"Appealing, original characters—especially Sid, eccentric but high-functioning—are a strong suit...Harvey portrays parental mental illness and the long-term effects of childhood trauma with compassionate insight."
"The characters are wonderful and well-drawn...Chloe's exuberance is a perfect foil to Sid's need for peace and quiet daily. She provides a bit of needed humor along the way. Each has a unique voice and plays an important role in the unfolding drama...The setting itself seems like a character that soothes with a peaceful calm that envelops those living there. Families come in all shapes, and this book is testament to that."
Sal's Fiction Addiction blog