Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt

The Things a Brother Knows

Author: Dana Reinhardt

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books

5 out of 5 stars

Boaz is back.  After all this time, he has finally returned.  Boaz can put the war behind him once and for all, and just go back to how things were before he left.  He was gone for three years.  Three years full of worrying, hardship, and adjustment.  Those three years don’t matter anymore.  They can be tossed out the window, because Boaz would never leave them again.  Never put them through that unnecessary strain on their emotions ever again.  He’s home for good.  But is he really?

Levi has spent the last three years growing up and getting older, all without his big brother Boaz.  Boaz has always been the star of the family.  Everyone loves him, everyone thinks he can do no wrong, and no one really knows Boaz like Levi does.  The thing is, Levi isn’t even sure if he still knows his older brother.  He’s been gone for three years now, and he’s about to come home.  But will it be Boaz who comes home, or someone else?

When Boaz comes home Levi expects everything to go back to normal, to how it was before.  Before he left them to fight in the war.  Before he made a decision that would do more harm than good.  Before he changed.  But Levi is in for a surprise.  When Boaz comes back home Levi realizes that he has changed.  While everyone else refuses to believe it, Levi knows that things are not the same.   Boaz now wants to be called Bo.  All he ever does is lock himself in his room and listen to the static on the radio while looking at maps, and to top it all off he won’t even get into a car.

Levi isn’t sure what Boaz is up to, or if there will ever be a “normal” to go back to.  All he knows for sure is that he needs to find out what happened in the war.  When Boaz announces that he is going to hike the Appalachian Trail, Levi suspects that something more is going on.  With the help of his two best friends, Pearl and Zim, Levi sets off on a journey to follow his brother into the unexpected.  This time he won’t let his brother get away.  Where is Boaz headed?  Will Levi ever know the same Boaz as before?  All is revealed in Dana Reinhardt’s stunning story of one boy’s attempt to not lose his brother a second time in, The Things a Brother Knows!

The Things a Brother Knows is a provocative, genuine story that was both tender and witty all at once.  Slowly the puzzle pieces started to come together as I followed along Levi’s journey of finally learning Boaz’s touching story.  The Things a Brother Knows truly illustrates that family will always be there to catch you when you fall and pick you right back up again.  I could insert myself right into the story, as I could really relate to how much Levi loved his brother, even if he didn’t always know the entire truth.

Dana Reinhardt’s writing is reminiscent of Andrew Smith’s, in the way that both of their writing never holds anything back.  Reinhardt’s writing felt so real and I felt as if I could grasp her words and flip through all of the layers in my mind.  The witty humor mixed in with the sincere truth made for not only an incredible story, but an incredible journey as well.  Levi’s voice was one that embodied any teen today, but also looked deeper into the things around him.  He didn’t just see things as they are said to be, but as they are.  I feel that Reinhardt’s writing and Levi’s voice were a perfect complement to each other and worked well together to make a very enjoyable story.

The Things a Brother Knows also reminded me of Andrew Smith’s novel, Stick.  In both books a brother follows his older brother in an effort to get him back and bring him home for good.  Boaz’s journey was not only for him to sort through his own haunting images of the war, but it was also a time for Levi to sift through his thoughts on his own life, his brother, and how he felt about the war.  Both brothers changed, but Levi especially.  Though Boaz may not have always been the best brother, it was evident that he loved Levi with all his heart just by letting him tag along on such a personal voyage.  Instead of going through it all alone, Levi was there to witness his brother slowly return to “normal.”

Pearl and Zim, Levi’s two best friends, are just as unique as Levi.  Both constantly cracked me up, and the way in which they rebounded off each other with their witty banter and mocking jokes is something that only true friends can do.  Levi has known both Pearl and Zim for his entire life, so it was interesting to get to see how they dealt with what Levi was going through.  They had Levi’s back the entire time and always nudged him in the right direction.

At times, The Things a Brother Knows led me in different directions than I thought the story would go, and I felt that these sections were a little too drawn-out.  Ultimately, it all led up to why Boaz was going on this trek, but it would have been nice to get right to his reasons for taking this trip.  I was held in suspense until the very end, and it was only then that I truly found what Boaz had been looking for.  However, the journey wouldn’t have been the same without all the moments that brought Levi a little closer to knowing Boaz once again.

The Things a Brother Knows is a book that I surely won’t forget any time soon.  With Levi’s witty humor, and Boaz’s thoughtful manner, the two come together to create a beautiful tale that slowly unravels the closer they come to reaching their goal.  Join Levi, as he follows his brother into the unknown only using what he knows as a guide in, The Things a Brother Knows!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

*I received this novel from The Why Chromosome: Why Boys Do Love Books event by Bridge To Books.  I received The Things a Brother Knows in exchange for my honest review.  Thank you so much to Wendy Lamb Books and everyone at The Why Chromosome: Why Boys Do Love Books event for providing me with a copy!

Check out Dana Reinhardt's website at


  1. Wow this book sounds amazing! I was so upset when you're summary was over because I wanted to find out what happens once Levi starts following his brother. Another one I'm going to have to add to my books to read :) Great job!

  2. Another awesome review! I've avoided this book, I just don't want to read about what war does to the younger generation. I already don't want them there and I have two sons who think it would be so great to be Navy Seals or be Fighter Pilots.

    That being said, your review sounds more like a story about the love between two brothers. It reminds me a lot of your review of STICK. I can't imagine the demons Bo must have to get rid of and how Levi reacts. Really excellent review!



Hi, and welcome to From The Bookshelf of T.B.!

I can't wait to hear what you have to say! I do my best to try and respond to your comments, so check back often. Comment away!