Brontë and Tennyson are at odds again. Soft-hearted Brontë has started dating local mystery Brewster Rawlins. Tennyson doesn’t want a guy nicknamed “Bruiser” anywhere near his twin sister. When Brontë accuses her brother of being a snob and a bully, Tennyson follows Brewster home from school, looking for further arguments against the relationship. Instead, he finds himself drawn into Brewster’s story. As the truth about Brewster gradually becomes clear — who he is, what he can do, and the price he pays — Brontë and Tennyson discover that this new friendship requires more of them than either knew they had to offer.
I picked up this book both because I had enjoyed Neal Shusterman’s Unwind and because the premise reminded me of one of the most intriguing gifts in Zenna Henderson’s People stories — the ability to literally share someone else’s pain. What I found was that, once again, Shusterman had told a great story that left me thinking about something deep: in this case, the role of suffering in relationships and in personal development. The choice to tell the story not only in four different voices — those of Brontë, Tennyson, Brewster, and Brewster’s little brother, Cody — but also in four different forms (Brewster’s chapters, for example, are written entirely in verse, while Cody’s are presented in stream-of-consciousness form) adds further distinction to already well-developed and dynamic characters. Readers willing to follow the somewhat complicated path of the narrative will find themselves engaged in both the unravelling of Brewster’s secret and the overarching exploration of the cost — and value — of suffering.
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