Resources for The Things a Brother Knows

The Things a Brother Knows, by Dana Reinhardt

Wendy Lamb Books, September, 2010


Author website:


Publisher website:


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Author interview:



Starred review.  “With exceptional sensitivity, Reinhardt (How to Build a House) chronicles a soldier’s troubling homecoming, in this timely novel told from his younger brother’s point of view. Three years after joining the Marines and serving overseas, Levi Katznelson’s brother, Boaz, returns to his Boston suburb a hero. But he seems to be a different person: withdrawn and uncommunicative. After isolating himself from the family, Boaz announces his plans to hike the Appalachian Trail, yet Levi suspects his brother has another itinerary in mind. Using a route marked on a map Boaz left behind, Levi follows Boaz’s path and eventually catches up with him. Walking side by side with his brother all the way to Washington, D.C., visiting ex-Marines and soldiers’ families along the way, Levi learns more about his brother’s experiences — like why he’s stopped riding in automobiles — than Boaz can explain outright. Refraining from making political judgments about current conflicts, Reinhardt personalizes a soldier’s traumas in terms civilians can understand. Levi’s growing comprehension of Boaz’s internal turmoil is gracefully and powerfully evoked.”- Publishers Weekly

Starred review.  “Levi’s older brother Boaz enlisted in the Marines after graduating from high school rather than attend an elite university as expected. Levi has felt the distance grow between them prior to and throughout his enlistment. Now, Boaz – renamed Bo – is returning home from the Middle East. The person who arrives bears little resemblance to his previous self, holing up in his room and barely communicating. When Bo announces his intention of hiking the Appalachian Trail, Levi (who has snooped in Bo’s Internet history) knows better. With a little help from best friends Pearl and Zim, he joins Bo on his personal hegira. The first-person, present-tense narration takes readers steadily toward the core of what has happened to Bo. Levi’s reflections and observations are crisply apt and express essentials succinctly. The emotional journey is leavened with humor and a little romance, but it moves toward the conclusion with an inevitability that grabs and doesn’t let go. Every character contributes and brings a point of view that adds to a fuller picture of the personal consequences of war without being simplistically pro or anti. Powerful.” (Fiction. 12 & up)– Kirkus

Starred review.  “In a Boston suburb, Levi’s older brother, Boaz, has just returned from fighting in ‘some desert country half a world away.’ The U.S. Marines say Boaz is ‘healthy,’ but Levi thinks otherwise; Boaz doesn’t want to ride in a car, sleep in a bed, or even come out of his room, and he dives for cover at unpredictable moments. Levi misses Boaz as he remembers him, before he left two years earlier: a high-school hero; a happy, well-adjusted son and grandson; and a difficult but still-wonderful older brother. Reinhardt’s poignant story of a soldier coping with survivor’s guilt and trauma, and his Israeli American family’s struggle to understand and help, is timely and honest. The clever, authentic dialogue beautifully captures the disparate dynamics of the family, friends, and marines in the brothers’ lives. Indeed, the characters seem so real that they may live in readers’ minds long after the final page is turned. Unlike Walter Dean Myers’ Fallen Angels (1998), about Vietnam, or Sunrise over Fallujah (2008), set in Iraq, this novel is not anchored in a specific war, but Reinhardt sensitively explores universal traumas that usurp the lives of many soldiers and their loved ones. Readers won’t soon forget Boaz and Levi’s search for understanding and the healing power of love.”- Booklist

Starred review.  “Gr 8 Up–Levi Katznelson’s older brother, Boaz, is home after three years as a Marine. He has been changed by the experience, which emerges bit by bit through his behaviors but not through his words. That’s because he rarely speaks. He is home, in his room, and doesn’t come out often. The radio is on static. He won’t ride in cars. He won’t see his ex-girlfriend. Levi can hear him screaming at night. The book isn’t just about a traumatized soldier; it’s about how everyone he knows and cares about is impacted by his changes. When Boaz finally leaves the house and tells the family that there’s something that he must do, Levi follows him, not knowing his destination. During the several days that the brothers walk, he tries to reconnect to the brother he loved and possibly to save him from his internal torment. Reinhardt creates fully realized characters with terrifically precise and perfect details and dialogue that brings each moment alive to engage readers’ senses. Reading this book is like having a deep conversation with a friend on a long walk. The characters don’t seem like characters but feel bigger and more complex, and they live on after readers have turned the page. Reinhardt examines what it means to be a hero, the consequences of war, and what it takes to try to regain one’s humanity. A powerful and timely portrait of young men trying to make sense of their lives.”- School Library Journal


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