by Shusterman, Neal

Inexplicable events start to occur when sixteen-year-old twins Tennyson and Brontèe befriend a troubled and misunderstood outcast, aptly nicknamed Bruiser, and his little brother, Cody.

Is it possible to experience joy if you don't experience pain? Is absorbing someone's pain a gift or a curse? Shusterman explores these central questions in this thought-provoking new book. Sixteen-year-old Tennyson fumes when he learns his twin sister, Bronte, is dating Bruiser, the guy voted Most Likely to Go to Jail, but Bronte insists Bruiser is misunderstood. Tennyson is eventually won over and befriends Bruiser, and that's when the twins notice something odd. Their cuts and bruises disappear overnight while Bruiser is a mass of new hurts; somehow he takes on the pain, both physical and emotional, of the people he cares for. The story is narrated by Tennyson, Bronte, and Cody, Bruiser's brother, in prose and by Bruiser in free verse, and the individual voices are nicely distinct. It is Tennyson, though, who stands out as he evolves from self-centered bully to caring young man and ponders big questions about friendship and sacrifice. A culminating crisis is a bit convenient, but the compelling issues and engaging premise make this a rewarding read. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Shusterman's latest is an unlikely love story. Twins Tennyson and Brontë—both parents teach literature, force feed their children vocabulary words and fight incessantly—don't have much in common, but when Brontë starts dating the Bruiser, they find themselves pulled into something unimaginable. Because if Brew loves you, he'll steal your pain—heartache, as well as bruises and broken bones. He has always held himself apart to keep himself safe, but the price is unimaginable loneliness. Brontë has always had her eye out for things and people in need, while Tennyson thrives on his anger, but Brew's power turns everything around. It flattens emotions, because none of the bad stuff ever hurts and life is lived in mental padding. Told in four voices—Tennyson and Brontë, Brew and his younger brother, Cody—this is a wrenching but ultimately redemptive look at how pain defines us and how love, whether familial, romantic or friendly, demands sacrifice and brings gifts of its own. Once again, Shusterman spins a fantastic tale that sheds light on everyday life. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Terms of Use   ©Copyright 2019 Follett School Solutions