Summer Brother by: Jaap Robben


Synopsis from World Editions

Thirteen-year-old Brian lives in a trailer on a forgotten patch of land with his divorced and uncaring father. His older brother Lucien, physically and mentally disabled, has been institutionalized for years. While Lucien’s home is undergoing renovations, he is sent to live with his father and younger brother for the summer. Their detached father leaves Brian to care for Lucien’s special needs. But how do you look after someone when you don’t know what they need? How do you make the right choices when you still have so much to discover? Summer Brother is an honest, tender account of brotherly love, which will resonate with readers of Rain Man. 

About the Author

JAAP ROBBEN is a poet, playwright, performer, and acclaimed children’s author. You Have Me to Love, his first novel for adults, won the 2014 Dutch Booksellers Award, the Dioraphte Prize, and the ANV Award for best Dutch debut. 

My Review

I sometimes struggle with translated works but the premise of this story intrigued me. A young boy left to take care of his disabled older brother in a home situation that was less than ideal is the backdrop to this story. Brian’s life is anything but normal as he grows up in a trailer with his father who is not such an ideal role model. Lucien is Brian’s older brother but he lives in a home and is occasionally visited by Brian and their father. Their mother is remarried and starting her life over again and cares very little about her sons unless it is convenient for her. When Lucien’s room is being remodeled, Brian and his dad take him home with them.

This was an easy read due to the excellent translation from the Dutch by David Doherty. It is sometimes the case with translated works where the language doesn’t mesh well with the story, but this was not the case. I felt sorry for the young boys and how they had to grow up. The brotherly connection and love between them, however, was the focal point of this story.

I gave this book 3.5 crowns.

I received this ARC from World Editions in exchange for an honest review.

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