Synopses & Reviews
When Daniels brother Eli is killed at war, Daniel considers the history of unusual fatalities to determine what makes a death — or a life — matter.
Some people die heroically, others accidentally. When Daniel Andersons older brother dies, he wonders which category Elis death falls into. In an attempt to understand, Danny creates a Book of the Dead — an old binder that he fills with details about dead people, how they died, and, most important, for what purpose. Time passes, and eventually Daniel is prompted to look up from his notebook of death and questions to make new friends and be swept into their imaginings. With gentle humor and genuine emotion, Rebecca Rupp examines the questions that arise following a profound loss and the moments that start life rolling again.
"Daniel, a wry and thoughtful narrator, looks back on the summer when he was 14, three years after his older brother, Eli, died in Iraq at age 22. Rupp (Octavia Boone's Big Questions about Life, the Universe, and Everything) skillfully weaves Daniel's memories of larger-than-life Eli and his lingering anger about his death with Daniel's day-to-day challenges, including his dysfunctional family (Daniel repeatedly clashes with his father, and his mother is all but catatonic, continuing to mourn Eli); his frustrations with his popular but conventional friends; his attraction to Isabelle, a gorgeous and free-spirited newcomer to town; and his nascent friendship with school outcast Walter. Throughout, Daniel adds to his 'Book of the Dead,' in which he documents famous and infamous deaths that seem tragic, senseless, or cruel. The pain running through the narrative is tempered with hope, humor, and resilience, offering insight into the anguish of those left behind. A rich cast of secondary characters (Isabelle's bickering twin siblings are scene-stealers) is a powerful source of support for Daniel in a story that's as much about self-knowledge as acceptance. Ages 9 12. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Rebecca Rupp is the beloved author of more than a dozen books for young readers, among them The Dragon of Lonely Island, Sarah Simpsons Rules for Living, and Octavia Boones Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything. She and her family live in Swanton, Vermont.