My novel isn’t for everyone. In fact, I can think of five good reasons you might not like it. (But please feel free to prove me wrong.)
- You believe YA heroes should have claws, fangs, superpowers or, at the very least, lots of attitude.
I can’t help you here. The lead characters—Rachel, Leonard and Ethan—have to face their problems within their very human limitations. Instead of magic, they have curiosity; instead of special powers, they have courage. They’re not big on attitude either. When they defy their world, they do so with wit, not withering sarcasm.
- You like a seamless story arc from beginning to end.
Our Brothers can be a bumpy ride. You get multiple points of view from different points in time. Keeping track of things can be tricky, but the characters are facing tricky things—there are moments when you’ll be as puzzled as they are.
- You relate to black-and-white characters.
I don’t know about you, but it bothers me that in today’s political climate, authority figures in office or in the media commonly refer to allies and enemies as “good guys” and “bad guys,” as if world affairs were one big Western movie. In the real world, it’s rarely as simple as that. In Our Brothers, good people do bad or unwise things, such as shoplift and lie. And bad people try to do good things, like protect their families. You might not like this world. But it may feel familiar.
- You expect writing as blunt and on-the-nose as a high school social studies textbook.
When I was a kid and my mother caught me doing wrong, she’d always ask me “Why?” and I’d always answer, “I don’t know,” which pissed her the hell off. As a parent, I can appreciate her frustration. But I was telling the truth: many things elude direct explanation. As a writer, I can’t help but use the allusive—images, metaphors, language that suggests rather than tells—because it feels honest. For most of the things that really matter to us, we don’t “know”; we can merely suspect.
- You want a “happy” ending.
“Happy endings,” where all the heroes win justice, the villains get their just desserts, and everyone finds endless love, usually make me sad. Why? Because by serving up sentimentality, the writer has replaced good faith with the false belief that we cannot face difficult truths. I believe we rarely, if ever, find “closure”—but that’s okay, because there are better things to discover. If you take a chance and read Our Brothers, you may find the ending complicated, which might frustrate or delight you.