What They Always Tell Us
JAMES AND ALEX have barely anything in common anymore—least of all their experiences in high school, where James is a popular senior and Alex is suddenly an outcast. But at home, there is Henry, the precocious 10-year-old across the street, who eagerly befriends them both. And when Alex takes up running, there is James's friend Nathen, who unites the brothers in moving and unexpected ways.

What They Always Tell Us Details

TitleWhat They Always Tell Us
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 12th, 2008
PublisherDelacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN-139780385735070
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Lgbt, Contemporary, Romance, M M Romance, Realistic Fiction

What They Always Tell Us Review

  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    Cross-posted at Shelf Inflicted and at Outlaw ReviewsWhat They Always Tell Us is a very simple, quiet story told from the perspective of two brothers who live in Alabama. James is a high school senior. Even though he’s smart, has lots of friends, and is on the tennis team, the only thing he wants is to go to college and leave Alabama. Alex, a junior, is James’ younger brother. While he’s not as smart, athletic, or as popular as James, he has other qualities that James lacks – Alex is sensitive, Cross-posted at Shelf Inflicted and at Outlaw ReviewsWhat They Always Tell Us is a very simple, quiet story told from the perspective of two brothers who live in Alabama. James is a high school senior. Even though he’s smart, has lots of friends, and is on the tennis team, the only thing he wants is to go to college and leave Alabama. Alex, a junior, is James’ younger brother. While he’s not as smart, athletic, or as popular as James, he has other qualities that James lacks – Alex is sensitive, caring, generous and compassionate. Alex and James were once very close, until an incident at a party resulted in Alex’ hospitalization and the loss of his friends. Upset, embarrassed, and unable to understand, James withdraws from his brother, slowly severing the bond that once held them together. Alex develops a love for running and tries out for the cross-country team. His life takes a turn for the better when his teammate and his brother’s friend, Nathen, turns out to be more than just a friend. I really liked how Alex’ sexuality is not the main focus of this novel. It is treated as a part of his life, just as his relationship with James, his friendships, and his running are. Even though I disliked James in the beginning for his callous treatment of Alex, I really enjoyed how he changed and matured. While this story is simply told, the characters are engaging, interesting, flawed, and very believable. I felt a deep connection with the characters, particularly Alex, and enjoyed spending time with them as they interact with family, friends, neighbors and cope with loneliness, identity issues, rejection, and acceptance. What They Always Tell Us is a wonderful story. I wish it was around when I was a teenager.
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  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    What They Always Tell Us is about two brothers, James and Alex, who are unlike each other in many ways - James is outgoing and popular, while Alex is compassionate and reserved. After Alex attempts to take his life at a party, James is left wondering what went wrong. Then, Alex meets James's friend Nathan, and the two form a friendship that could grown into something more.This book is simple and stunning. As of May 2011, even after two years, it remains one of the best books I've ever read and m What They Always Tell Us is about two brothers, James and Alex, who are unlike each other in many ways - James is outgoing and popular, while Alex is compassionate and reserved. After Alex attempts to take his life at a party, James is left wondering what went wrong. Then, Alex meets James's friend Nathan, and the two form a friendship that could grown into something more.This book is simple and stunning. As of May 2011, even after two years, it remains one of the best books I've ever read and my favorite young-adult novel that includes gay characters. The writing moved me to tears at one point - every time I pick up another book for teens with glbt themes I can't help but think I hope this is as good as What They Always Tell Us...Not only did this novel provide a great read, it also helped me with personal struggles in my life. I am forever grateful to Barnes and Nobles, where this book happened to be on display as I walked by the young-adult section, and Martin Wilson, for writing such a quiet, uplifting story.*cross-posted from my blog the quiet voice.
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  • Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes we read books whose wicked plots and twists, while blatantly aimed to make us feel something, fail their purpose and sometimes, sometimes, we come across a quiet book which lead us to strong and real feelings. What they always tell us is that kind of books, and that's why, even though I have issues I can't overtake, lowering my rating below 3 stars wouldn't be fair in my opinion. I mean, I ate it up for fuck sake! Indeed contrary to many readers, my main problem wasn't the pacing, beca Sometimes we read books whose wicked plots and twists, while blatantly aimed to make us feel something, fail their purpose and sometimes, sometimes, we come across a quiet book which lead us to strong and real feelings. What they always tell us is that kind of books, and that's why, even though I have issues I can't overtake, lowering my rating below 3 stars wouldn't be fair in my opinion. I mean, I ate it up for fuck sake! Indeed contrary to many readers, my main problem wasn't the pacing, because I was never bored. It's a quiet book for sure, not our standard roller-coaster, but I do enjoy reading this kind of books sometimes, especially when they manage to make me feel, as it was the case here.This being said, despite my utter involvement in Alex and James's lives (well, mostly Alex's, if I'm being honest), I can't help but feel cheated somehow, as the last 25% disappointed me and left me almost empty. Don't you hate it when you're LOVING a book and then you're only waiting for it to end? WORST. FEELING. EVER. Although I adored the first half, I began to slowly change my mind, finishing it in complete exasperation. ▧ This story deals with bullying and the importance of family in a believable and touching way, as we follow James and Alex, two brothers who try to build their relationship again after Alex became suddenly an outcast. Even if James never was my favorite person (mostly he's a know it all jerk for me, especially when it comes to girls - what a slut-shamer he is, I can't even), I understood the need and the interest to get his POV too. Alex though. Alex broke my heart. Alex made me smile so big. Alex made me cry, too. ▧ What I really appreciated was the way bullying was portrayed, because to me it was realistic - Sometimes being ignored, laughed at, quietly belittled can be more hard to live than many persons acknowledge it, sadly, and Martin Wilson does a great job to picture the thin line between "friendship" (see the quotation marks? Yeah?), teasing and bullying. To be frank, I didn't get what Tyler's deal was (apart from being an asshole, that is), but we don't always understand why people act that way in real life too unfortunately. "Tyler, in particular, used to bombard him with stinging comments, punctuated always by an empty "Just kidding, Alex." ➸ This sort of passive-aggressive comments is so common - and there they were supposed to be still friends. Damn. The guy pissed me off. ▧ Moreover, what we get here is a portray of realistic characters, with their flaws and their best parts. When I say that they sounded like real teenagers to me, that means that they sometimes think the most stupid things (trust me) - that I had to roll my eyes a few times, actually, but I didn't mind, because for once, I could have imagined them being people actually living. ▧ As for the romance, I must say that Alex and Nathen's gradual and growing relationship was fantastic to follow. They were the cutest, really, and I shipped them from the beginning to the end. Indeed I loved how Nathen tried to break Alex's shell without never being intrusive or judgmental. He was the best, really, even if he irked me with his addiction to the word BUDDY (for real - how many times can he say that?). The ending frustrated me so much though.▧ I love when YA doesn't try to do YA. That is to say, a dick's a dick, that kind of things (the first shower scene made me laugh way too much for my own good - I don't even know if I was supposed to laugh. Oh, well)▧ The whole subplot with their young neighbor was messy, especially towards the end where it was completely ridiculous. Let me sum it up : there's Henry, a little boy about 10 years old who moved with his mother at the beginning of the year and who's having a hard time fitting in at school. Nobody really knows why they're here and what his mother does for a living, therefore of course, of course, unfortunately, people can't mind their own business, and you know, speculate about them and wonder why they move around the country so much. Not to mention that the mother is gorgeous so you can infer in what place people's guesses go. Sigh. Add some drama lama in the end and you'll get an annoyed reader (yes, me). Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the friendship building between Henry and the two brothers but the whole drama with his mother got to my nerves, especially in the end because it stole the show and frankly? I didn't care. ▧ The lack of world-building. Yes, you read correctly, I wanted more world-building in my contemporary - or is it, really? After reading it I looked up the date of release and it was released in 2008, not so far away then, right? Now, tell me, did the teenagers had not cell phones and internet in 2008? Huh? Of course they did. Therefore from what I picked in the book (and trust me, there's almost nothing other than the lack of things) I can infer that the story is set in the 90s and therefore I would have LOVED to get some pop culture references or something, anything, really, to help me put the story in perspective because yes, I do think that it's important when we deal with how people react, especially when it comes to tolerance. That's why I'm shelving it as historical romance. ▧ The ending was unsatisfying at best, and mostly frustrating. Look, I'm not usually bothered by open ending but as I said earlier, what maddened me was the fact that we focus on the neighbors' subplot and I didn't fucking care about that. Finally, and it's my own inner brat talking, why the fuck do we get James's POV for the last chapter? ► I wanted Alex's so bad, and I don't give a damn if I'm being a sulking brat at this point.
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  • Jo
    January 1, 1970
    I’m going to shamelessly steal an idea from this book to describe how I feel about this story.You know when you’re younger (Or, OK, when you’re not so young if you’re anything like me) and you’re on a set of swings in your back garden? And I’m not talking about the swings in the park that are properly secured with cement or whatever they use. These are the ones your dad put up in the summer when he’d had a bit too much Carlsberg and he was drunk on burgers.And, while you’re mid-swing, there’s th I’m going to shamelessly steal an idea from this book to describe how I feel about this story.You know when you’re younger (Or, OK, when you’re not so young if you’re anything like me) and you’re on a set of swings in your back garden? And I’m not talking about the swings in the park that are properly secured with cement or whatever they use. These are the ones your dad put up in the summer when he’d had a bit too much Carlsberg and he was drunk on burgers.And, while you’re mid-swing, there’s that split second moment where you’re not sure whether you’ll crunch back down into the grass or you’ll tip backwards and end up skinning your elbows or, more likely, get concussion.That split second moment is what this entire book felt like. Not sure whether it’s going to be happy, or sad ending… could go either way.I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to love this book just from reading the synopsis. It ticks all the boxes that I want ticked when I’m looking for a story. Siblings, boys, sexuality, growing up, contemporary. Tick, tick, tick, tiiiiiick.Thankfully, I wasn’t wrong.What They Always Tell Us is such a gorgeous book and from the first page I was completely hooked. It took me a while to get my head around the third person, present tense (I think the only other book I’ve read with this style is The Piper’s Son) but once I did I was surprised at how well it worked with the story.This book deals with a lot of diverse and sensitive issues, but with the story told in the way it was, there was this wonderful distance that stopped the book floundering in angst-ridden drama. Mr Wilson’s style of writing is so understated, so realistic and deals with the complicated emotions in a refreshingly matter-of-fact manner.I really hate it when authors really hammer issues home to you and you end up just wanting to fling the book across the room and yell “OK! WE GET IT!”All the characters were brilliant but I think my favourite was Alex. I loved how his story developed and the twisted and the turns it took; some I had guessed and others I had no idea about. And I adored how much time Mr Wilson took to develop the character, fleshing him out and making him into a real person, as opposed to a vessel for the Important Issues. I know that sounds stupid and stating-the-obvious-y but… well, not every author does that.There was only one issue I had was that I was more invested in Alex’s story and thoughts than James’. I kind of felt that James’ chapters, although still interesting, lacked the emotional impact that Alex’s had. They sometimes felt like they were just in there to highlight Alex’s chapters when, in fact, they were doing fine on their own.However, I did like the way that Mr Wilson portrayed James’ reaction to his brothers “accident”. It was fantastically written in all its uncomfortable and brutal honesty.Just recently, I’ve been lucky to find this pool of brilliant American authors that I’d never read before and Martin Wilson is definitely part of the gang. If his next books are anything like What They Always Tell Us then I cannot wait.Oh, you want to know which way the swing falls in this book?Pfft, like I’m going to tell you.Come on now.You can find this review and lots of other exciting things on my blog, Wear the Old Coat.
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  • Rosalinda *KRASNORADA*
    January 1, 1970
    This book reminded me of one of my fave songs from Vetusta Morlahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7esb5...There is this part that says 'fue tan largo el duelo que al final, casi lo confundo con mi hogar' and it's soooo fitting because that's how Alex, one of the MCs, feels for most of the book but no worries [email protected] because this is not one of those sad stories I usually read. This one taught me that there is light at the end of the tunnel, you can fight depression guys and if you try hard enough yo This book reminded me of one of my fave songs from Vetusta Morlahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7esb5...There is this part that says 'fue tan largo el duelo que al final, casi lo confundo con mi hogar' and it's soooo fitting because that's how Alex, one of the MCs, feels for most of the book but no worries [email protected] because this is not one of those sad stories I usually read. This one taught me that there is light at the end of the tunnel, you can fight depression guys and if you try hard enough you can win the battleEven though there is a kind of romance part and despite the fact that is MM do NOT expect this to be a book mainly focused on romance because it is not. This is a book about family, about two brothers that were very closed once but not anymore. Not anymore because James doesn't get why Alex wanted to stop living and instead of trying to figure things out he gets as far away from Alex as he can.We all know that someone who for one reason or another suffers of depression. Sometimes it's just a friend of a friend and you just feel sorry for them but that's all. Sometimes it can be someone from your family who you are not very close to. However, sometimes it can be someone you really care for and that's when it hits hard because you have no idea what to do, and not doing anything is all you can do. Support them, being there for them but it's not easy. I guess that's why James acts that way and I guess we all have been like James at one point in our lives. This book felt like a slap of reality, it felt like 'hey, don't look the other way. That would not help'. I won't lie, it was slow at times (specially James POV chapters), but it all made sense at the end.It's also a book about Henry, the 10 year old neighbour who made me fall in love completely with this story. Because if there is one good thing that stands out in this story is its secondary characters, I loved them ALL. They were just humans, with their good and bad things. So it's really funny when as I reader I started judging them all but at the end I was kind of dissappointed in myself for being so opinionated instead of understanding. It served me well, I guess.So as the song I mentioned earlier says, this had a hopeful ending.'Cayeron los bordesy el vaso ya está lleno.Y ahora sólo intento vaciarSólo necesito despegar'
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  • Lena♥Ribka
    January 1, 1970
    Audible It is my third book in a row that I rated with 5 stars, and I am a bit confused of myself. But I don't think that I became less demanding, maybe I just LEARNED to filter books that appeal to me. Or maybe I have just a lucky hand to chose the right books for me. Of course a story about two brothers, James and Alex, is the main story-line in this book, but it is in the first place a beautifully written wonderful story of growing up, discovering yourself, learning to come out of the cris Audible It is my third book in a row that I rated with 5 stars, and I am a bit confused of myself. But I don't think that I became less demanding, maybe I just LEARNED to filter books that appeal to me. Or maybe I have just a lucky hand to chose the right books for me. Of course a story about two brothers, James and Alex, is the main story-line in this book, but it is in the first place a beautifully written wonderful story of growing up, discovering yourself, learning to come out of the crisis stronger than ever. It is a touching story about insecurity, and loneliness, the hardships of being a grown-up. It is a gorgeous story of first love, true friendship and family ties. I listened to an audiobook, but it is one of those books, that it is difficult to ruin, doesn't matter how hard a bad narrator would try to do it. Luckily, Jesse Einstein did a good job, and I enjoyed both - the story itself and its audio version. So you're free to chose what you prefer. Highly recommended!
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  • Merphy Napier
    January 1, 1970
    This story is more about characters growing into better versions of themselves more than it's about any sort of plot - so I recommend this for character driven readers.Extremely real and likable characters with very realistic and heartwarming growth.The true downfall with this story is the sloppy plot. Alex's plot line was beautifully done for the most part but there were a lot of different threads that are focused on throughout the story and in the end, they didn't all connect or even come to a This story is more about characters growing into better versions of themselves more than it's about any sort of plot - so I recommend this for character driven readers.Extremely real and likable characters with very realistic and heartwarming growth.The true downfall with this story is the sloppy plot. Alex's plot line was beautifully done for the most part but there were a lot of different threads that are focused on throughout the story and in the end, they didn't all connect or even come to a conclusion - it just ended. I was really interested in everything in this book so I was sad to see some of it poorly (or not at all) resolved. But despite that, I really enjoyed this story and I loved these characters. I recommend.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    This is a great book dealing with depression, suicide attempts, and sexuality. However, it deals with so much more like compassion, relationships between brothers, social expectations, rumors, fear, and social posturing. I am not sure I can really describe exactly how well this books delves into a young persons psyche just trust me it does it well. Told in alternating chapters between 2 brothers (1 year apart) dealing with the attempted suicide of the younger brother. This book is NOT heavy han This is a great book dealing with depression, suicide attempts, and sexuality. However, it deals with so much more like compassion, relationships between brothers, social expectations, rumors, fear, and social posturing. I am not sure I can really describe exactly how well this books delves into a young persons psyche just trust me it does it well. Told in alternating chapters between 2 brothers (1 year apart) dealing with the attempted suicide of the younger brother. This book is NOT heavy handed and treats their relationship as well as the sexual identity of the younger brother with some of the more touching, realistic writing I have ever read in a teen book. There are a few slow parts, and a few pat scenes but if you only read 1 teen book this year, this should be it!
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  • Tyler Goodson
    January 1, 1970
    Some books take you somewhere outside yourself, someplace you couldn't have imagined. Other books know you. This is one of those. I've been to these places, I've known these people. They are me. I started this morning, and if this review were written in a letter the paper would be tear stained and the ink would be running I've cried so many times. Reading this was restorative, like I've been watching one long episode of Oprah, only better. I'm ready to live my best life now or something. Read it Some books take you somewhere outside yourself, someplace you couldn't have imagined. Other books know you. This is one of those. I've been to these places, I've known these people. They are me. I started this morning, and if this review were written in a letter the paper would be tear stained and the ink would be running I've cried so many times. Reading this was restorative, like I've been watching one long episode of Oprah, only better. I'm ready to live my best life now or something. Read it. I know you'll love it.
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  • Ami
    January 1, 1970
    I bought this book several years ago -- before I knew about MM romance and just got acquainted with LGBT fiction. I haven't had the chance to read it because well, no romance made it less appealing. Until now, when I got bored with what published MM titles could offer ...This story is WONDERFUL. It follows the life of two brothers: Alex, the younger one, who feels alienated and lonely and different. His friends look at him as loser, after he drank a bottle of Pine-Sol at a party. And James, the I bought this book several years ago -- before I knew about MM romance and just got acquainted with LGBT fiction. I haven't had the chance to read it because well, no romance made it less appealing. Until now, when I got bored with what published MM titles could offer ...This story is WONDERFUL. It follows the life of two brothers: Alex, the younger one, who feels alienated and lonely and different. His friends look at him as loser, after he drank a bottle of Pine-Sol at a party. And James, the big brother, who is the 'star' in the family, smart, an athlete ... but lately he feels restless and wants to get out from the town. In addition, he also feels slightly guilty because he isn't the good big brother for Alex.I don't have brothers myself, so the dynamic of brothers always interest me. I love how both Alex and James grow up throughout this story. Alex finds what makes him happy, in running and in Nathen, James's friend, who later becomes more than just friend. While James finally makes a stance over people who hurt Alex, and he finally feels like he's the big brother again.There is a secondary character that also wins my heart: a 10-year-old boy named Henry, who becomes a friend somehow for both brothers.It's a lovely book about adolescents. ALTHOUGH, just like a number of LGBT Young-Adult Fiction that I have read, I want more of a closure, a promise of HEA so to speak. (view spoiler)[I want to read the scene where Alex tells his parents about his sexuality. Because his parents don't know yet. James knows and Alex tells his therapist. But not his parents. I also want a confirmation that even if Nathen goes to NYU after graduation, he and Alex will be just fine (hide spoiler)]. I know this is lit-fic and not romance, still, I can hope :)
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  • Rory
    January 1, 1970
    This is probably the best book I have every read about growing up--at least the most similar to how I grew up. It is a story of two brothers who both have to deal with repercussions of one night and the trickle effect it has on their entire life from high school to the family to themselves.I think what I loved most was that neither brother was a simple character but they each surprised me in how clearly well rounded they were. I think it is very hard to not to rely on high school stereotypes but This is probably the best book I have every read about growing up--at least the most similar to how I grew up. It is a story of two brothers who both have to deal with repercussions of one night and the trickle effect it has on their entire life from high school to the family to themselves.I think what I loved most was that neither brother was a simple character but they each surprised me in how clearly well rounded they were. I think it is very hard to not to rely on high school stereotypes but Martin Wilson makes everyone in the book much more than complex than any young adult book I have read before.
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  • haley
    January 1, 1970
    This was sweet. Really liked it.As always, I will first discuss the characters. Alex was a sweetie, and I loved him. James, to be perfectly honest, was kind of a dick at first, but he went through a shit ton of character development and I grew to like him. I also really liked Nathen and Alice. It's amazing that not much happens plot-wise and yet I was never bored. There's no exciting action or adventure, it's just a glimpse into the lives of some high school students trying to live and love. It' This was sweet. Really liked it.As always, I will first discuss the characters. Alex was a sweetie, and I loved him. James, to be perfectly honest, was kind of a dick at first, but he went through a shit ton of character development and I grew to like him. I also really liked Nathen and Alice. It's amazing that not much happens plot-wise and yet I was never bored. There's no exciting action or adventure, it's just a glimpse into the lives of some high school students trying to live and love. It's ordinary but that's what makes it so relatable.Ugh, the romance was to die for. I ship it so hard. It's very mild, there's no sexually explicit scenes. It's more kissing and intimate moments, my favorite kind of romantic moments. I don't really have much to say, except that I quite enjoyed it and I would totally recommend it. For some reason it kind of reminds me of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, so if you liked that then totally check this out.Tl;dr version- A really sweet story that involves an adorable romance and a realistic glimpse into the lives of high school students.
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  • Will Walton
    January 1, 1970
    The more I replay these scenes through my head, the more miraculous to me they seem. This book is an understated achievement. A true joy.
  • Karel
    January 1, 1970
    It's hard for me to read books about bullying, so I'll have to put a disclaimer right here that I'm not at my most objective (insofar as a person can be objective when expressing an opinion) about it.The book revolves around two brothers: Alex, who survived an attempted suicide some time before the beginning of the book and became a social outcast and his brother James, a popular senior who's guilty for not being there for Alex and at the same time disdaining him as a dork.The true strength in t It's hard for me to read books about bullying, so I'll have to put a disclaimer right here that I'm not at my most objective (insofar as a person can be objective when expressing an opinion) about it.The book revolves around two brothers: Alex, who survived an attempted suicide some time before the beginning of the book and became a social outcast and his brother James, a popular senior who's guilty for not being there for Alex and at the same time disdaining him as a dork.The true strength in this novel is in its subtlety. There's no head-dunking or elaborately violent high school prank in the book. Wilson manages to portray what is probably most hurtful of high school behavior - the ignoring, the snickers, the laughter that you're SURE is meant for you, and the in-your-face hypocrisy.The book is about very little. Centered around James and Alex and a few of their friends, it's ultimately about two things: change and his recovery from depression for Alex, and James' inability to break out of the mold to defend his brother.It's painful to watch sometimes - James lets up chance after chance to defend his brother in social situations, going so far as to hang out with Alex's ex-friends, who shunned him. Alex can't seem to break out of his shell to talk or comfort people, even when he clearly wants to. He even ignores a little boy who has no friends and needs him most of the time.And yet you can't help but empathize with them because it comes across as so true - at one point most of us have been in these situations. Deciding not to stir the pot for something as insignificant as principles just to stay on the friendship train, and apathy to someone else's situation even though we know we should feel sorry for them.It's, as I said, a book about very little. The conclusion to the book is slightly unsatisfying too, considering all the build-up, and the relationship between the two brothers is never nauseatingly sweet like I hoped it would be. But this is the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower should have been. I find many coming-of-age stories boring, and this is no different - the only difference is that this touched me, and I genuinely cared for the characters.Which is a hell lot more than I can say for a lot of books out there.
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  • Reyn
    January 1, 1970
    Normally when I read books I cycle through about five or so until I find one that really consumes me. I will then focus on that book until I have exhausted its pages and digested the plot. With this novel, it took me a while to finally admit to myself that I was engrossed in the story. Such is the subtlety of this brilliant novel that you are pulled in immediately and only later does it hit you that you have been invested all along.Alex is a quiet boy who shatters his family's complacent securit Normally when I read books I cycle through about five or so until I find one that really consumes me. I will then focus on that book until I have exhausted its pages and digested the plot. With this novel, it took me a while to finally admit to myself that I was engrossed in the story. Such is the subtlety of this brilliant novel that you are pulled in immediately and only later does it hit you that you have been invested all along.Alex is a quiet boy who shatters his family's complacent security with a single act during a back-to-school house party. From this moment, his old life unravels. James is Alex's popular athlete brother who is the most thrown by Alex's actions. He begins to question his brothers motives and is mostly confused about where they stand, causing them to drift further apart. Meanwhile Alex is trying to come to terms with himself and put his past behind him when he meets Henry, the young son of the new female neighbor across the way. Both brothers befriend Henry and bond over the odd visitors across the street and the boy's situation. Alex really starts to grow when he begins to run again and gains encouragement from James' close friend Nathen. Things move beyond friendship and throughout the year Alex regains his happiness and finds a newfound confidence.The magic is in the familiarity of the stressful situations of both brothers who have to adapt to new challenges at school and breaching the walls that have grown between them. The novel has a fluid pacing, my heartbeat often quickening near the end of a chapter as I looked for more information, anticipating the next page.
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  • Cassandra {semi-hiatus}
    January 1, 1970
    This is going to be a hard book to review because I'm going to break protocol: I'm not going to begin this review with a quote. This wasn't an incredibly quotable book and I don't want to start off my review with a mediocre quote about this above average book. I may have rated it three stars, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate how needed stories like this are.What They Always Tell Us is a novel centered around a pair of brothers growing up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. James and his younger brot This is going to be a hard book to review because I'm going to break protocol: I'm not going to begin this review with a quote. This wasn't an incredibly quotable book and I don't want to start off my review with a mediocre quote about this above average book. I may have rated it three stars, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate how needed stories like this are.What They Always Tell Us is a novel centered around a pair of brothers growing up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. James and his younger brother, Alex. The book starts out a little while after Alex had drunk Pine-Sol at a party which definitely sets the mood of this novel to "serious contemporary." It goes on to handle sexuality, peer pressure, mental illness, brotherhood, and many other high school-centric themes. This isn't a happy-go-lucky novel that leaves you giddy and optimistic. It's not glamorous or even enjoyable to read at times. The characters aren't perfect and don't always make the kind or right choice. Lots of these characters actually make you rage at humanity.But it matters because not every story needs to be about perfect people living perfect lives where something goes wrong. The world of YA especially needs more novels like this, where not everything ends up perfect or miserable but just in the middle. Some things worked out others did not. It was just like real life. It was refreshing and uncomfortably honest.This would have been an easy four or five stars if the novel hadn't had a few pacing and plot problems. I felt like certain chapters had me glued to the page while others were dull. There were also a few subplots I didn't completely understand the purpose of. However, maybe this was just a me thing. Overall, a touching story of two brothers and all the crap life throws at us. Highly recommend to lovers of realistic realistic fiction, those who enjoy themes of family and friendship, and of course, fans of some good old self-discovery.
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  • TheBookSmugglers
    January 1, 1970
    Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers: HEREWhat They Always Tell Us is a wonderful, beautiful story about two brothers who were once very close, then drifted apart and slowly find their way to each other. The story is told in alternating chapters from each brother’s perspective and it follows both throughout this one year in their lives.Alex is the youngest one, the quiet, solitary brother who’s been dealing with the repercussions of drinking Pine Sol one day at a party and ending up in hosp Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers: HEREWhat They Always Tell Us is a wonderful, beautiful story about two brothers who were once very close, then drifted apart and slowly find their way to each other. The story is told in alternating chapters from each brother’s perspective and it follows both throughout this one year in their lives.Alex is the youngest one, the quiet, solitary brother who’s been dealing with the repercussions of drinking Pine Sol one day at a party and ending up in hospital. Ever since then, his friends have disappeared, his parents treat him with extreme caution and his brother simply doesn’t seem to care. All Alex wants is to feel right again and things start to look up when he strikes two unlikely friendships: first with his 10 year old neighbour Henry and then with one of his brother’s best friends, Nathen. Henry is the one who reminds him what is like to have a brother but Nathen is the one who helps him grow up and the one who eventually becomes more than just a friend. Ah, l’amour.The older brother, James, is a senior about to graduate and go to college. He is a top student, a great athlete, a very popular kid who is always surrounded by friends and girlfriends. He is also SICK of it all, bored with all the parties. He can’t understand why his brother did what he did and now all that he wants is to get the hell out of Alabama.What They Always Tell Us is a quiet story. It progresses very slowly and the nature of its storytelling is more like a gentle breeze rather than a violent storm but no less effective for that. It is hard to express how well the author managed to take such charged topics like suicide and coming out and explore them in such a gentle manner. This gentleness (there is no better word for it) is in the way that Alex’s suicide attempt is revealed to the reader, the reasons behind it and how Alex feels about it. He knows it was a mistake and he’s been trying to atone for it ever since. But more than that, he’s been trying to understand it, to understand his feelings and yes, coming out as queer is part of it but it is not all of it and I hugely appreciated how the author treated this as part of who he was but not all that he was. His identity is about more than that: there is his surprise at being a good athlete, his passion for running, his friendships, his family and his relationship with his brother and yes, also his falling in love with Nathen. Although the potential complications of the latter are not glossed over – after all, this is Alabama – there is a lovely easy acceptance about their feelings for each other and it is ever so romantic (and also, hot).Meanwhile, we have James. Who at first comes across as a tremendous sexist jerk and I wanted to punch him in the face with my Fists of Fury. He treats girls in the most horrible manner, he is whinny in his boredom with his life, he is angry with people he shouldn’t be angry with and it feels as though he is frozen in limbo. It was hard to warm up to James to start with but soon enough it becomes clear how affected he was by his brother’s suicide attempt and perhaps, just perhaps all of those feelings are a result of a pent-up anger at himself. His character arc is perhaps more obvious and less gentle than Alex’s and when the moment comes when James FINALLY gets angry with those who deserve his anger (and that includes himself) and realises how important his brother is, it is the sort of victorious, triumphant moment that made me want to fist pump and celebrate. He also becomes a better person in the end (although I have to say, I hoped his sexism would have been addressed more directly).What They Always Tell Us is a story about brothers and about coming out. But I think that above all, this is a delicate exploration about what it means to be happy and how fleeting happiness can be. It is an effusive feeling? It is subtle? How much does happiness depend on external factors or internal ones? How much do other people affect your ability to be happy – or add to it? All characters to one extent or another are trying to understand what make them happy and trying catch it whenever them can, knowing that there are also shitty things that happen in life. There are no easy answers, there are no fixed outcomes but in the end Alex and James found each other again and as brothers and friends, they can face anything together.I had such a taste of that elusive happiness when I read this book and I know it is not of the fleeting kind. This is the sort of book with the sort of characters that simply …stay.
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  • 東星
    January 1, 1970
    As I told my friend just as I had finished it, I found this book to be "probably the most boring good book I've ever read."Okay, maybe that was a little ridiculous of me. But seriously, the plot-line is... Undramatic. But I loved it. The smooth, quiet writing. The flawed characters and their struggles in growing up. This is a true coming of age novel. Alex and James are two teenage brothers, both struggling to survive in the small town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Told in the third person, alternatin As I told my friend just as I had finished it, I found this book to be "probably the most boring good book I've ever read."Okay, maybe that was a little ridiculous of me. But seriously, the plot-line is... Undramatic. But I loved it. The smooth, quiet writing. The flawed characters and their struggles in growing up. This is a true coming of age novel. Alex and James are two teenage brothers, both struggling to survive in the small town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Told in the third person, alternating perspectives for each chapter, the reader gets a glimpse into the popular life of James, and the shunned and ignored every day life of Alex. The two seemingly opposite brothers are drawn together by a mysterious ten-year-old boy who moves into the house across the street, and Alex learns to enjoy life more with the help of his new friend Nathen. As the story unfolds, the complexity of the two main characters becomes apparent, and they come to realize more about both themselves and the world around them. Through the moderate pacing of the story along with the developing characters, everything within the novel seemed to come to life. As I put down the book, I almost wondered about what Alex and James are doing now, as if they really were in Tuscaloosa. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone (be prepared for a fairly undramatic narrative, though), but especially to teenagers who, just like Alex and James, are on the hard road to growing up.
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  • William Cooper
    January 1, 1970
    What They Always Tell us is told from two point of views. Alex, the younger brother, who is a social outcast after he makes a mistake at a party and James, the older brother, who is mister popularity. The boys used to be close when they were younger, but ever since Alex's mistake, they've grown apart. The novel follows the two boys relationship with each other and Alex's friendship with Nathen - his brothers friend - and Henry, the strange boy across the street.I absolutely loved this novel! It What They Always Tell us is told from two point of views. Alex, the younger brother, who is a social outcast after he makes a mistake at a party and James, the older brother, who is mister popularity. The boys used to be close when they were younger, but ever since Alex's mistake, they've grown apart. The novel follows the two boys relationship with each other and Alex's friendship with Nathen - his brothers friend - and Henry, the strange boy across the street.I absolutely loved this novel! It was recommended to me by one of my friends on here and I'm glad I read it. It was able to keep my attention and make me want to keep on reading. I liked all of the characters, even the antagonist. They were well developed and I'm sad that it had to end. The only thing I didn't like was how everything ended with Tyler. It seemed almost anti-climactic. I was waiting for something bad to happen, and then nothing. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed YA novels or enjoys LGBT novels.
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  • Marci
    January 1, 1970
    What They Always Tell Us is excellent. Incredible writing. I'm still in shock about how much I adored this book. James and Alex are brothers but you wouldn't think so, considering how different they are. Ever since Alex swallowed pine sol at a party, chugging it down like a beer, he became an outcast. Even his brother wasn't really Team Alex after the incident. James is the social one while Alex stands on the sidelines. Along comes Nathan, my personal favorite character!, and Alex's world is tur What They Always Tell Us is excellent. Incredible writing. I'm still in shock about how much I adored this book. James and Alex are brothers but you wouldn't think so, considering how different they are. Ever since Alex swallowed pine sol at a party, chugging it down like a beer, he became an outcast. Even his brother wasn't really Team Alex after the incident. James is the social one while Alex stands on the sidelines. Along comes Nathan, my personal favorite character!, and Alex's world is turned upside down. Alex starts running with Nathan, and finds a hobby and friend in him. Alex explores the depth of his talent, and his sexuality with Nathan. So much angst, struggle, fight to do the right thing, so much yes. I was a bit upset that James didn't stand up for his little bro but that's what makes it so very wonderful. It was real and raw. Big brothers don't usually go out punching, knocking out and unfriending everyone who is mean to their brother. James wanted to do the right thing, but that would've been uncool. And okay, yes, James did the best thing he could've done in the end (so yes James!!) He became Team Alex, undoubtedly. :) Which we all know how big and scary bad reputations can be in high school. But anyways, give this extraordinary book a chance! Amazingly awesome.
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  • Stephen
    January 1, 1970
    This book seemed to me to be an Ordinary People for a more self-aware age. Only in this case the brother is not lost but only almost lost. It seems that every author has a coming out story that they want to tell and this does indeed include one as well, but its more than than just that. Here the whole struggling with one's sexuality issue is actually more subdued and not the be-all and end-all that its presented as in so many other stories. Being told from the viewpoint of both the younger and t This book seemed to me to be an Ordinary People for a more self-aware age. Only in this case the brother is not lost but only almost lost. It seems that every author has a coming out story that they want to tell and this does indeed include one as well, but its more than than just that. Here the whole struggling with one's sexuality issue is actually more subdued and not the be-all and end-all that its presented as in so many other stories. Being told from the viewpoint of both the younger and the older brother gives this story depth and makes it compelling in a way that single POV would not. Even though it's the south, here we see the "kinder gentler America" that that politician once spoke of. The characters are likeable, (even to some degree the villain in the end) and the story is compelling is somewhat languidly paced. I highly recommend this book. It shows us a form of brotherly love that we seldom see and for once a family that's not terribly dysfunctional. This book is one I'd STRONGLY recommend to anyone who's an advocate of the ITGETSBETTER.ORG web movement.
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  • Ralph Gallagher
    January 1, 1970
    What They Always Tell us is told from two point of views. Alex, the younger brother, who is a social outcast after he makes a mistake at a party and James, the older brother, who is mister popularity. The boys used to be close when they were younger, but ever since Alex's mistake, they've grown apart. The novel follows the two boys relationship with each other and Alex's friendship with Nathen - his brothers friend - and Henry, the strange boy across the street.I absolutely loved this novel! It What They Always Tell us is told from two point of views. Alex, the younger brother, who is a social outcast after he makes a mistake at a party and James, the older brother, who is mister popularity. The boys used to be close when they were younger, but ever since Alex's mistake, they've grown apart. The novel follows the two boys relationship with each other and Alex's friendship with Nathen - his brothers friend - and Henry, the strange boy across the street.I absolutely loved this novel! It was recommended to me by one of my friends on here and I'm glad I read it. It was able to keep my attention and make me want to keep on reading. I liked all of the characters, even the antagonist. They were well developed and I'm sad that it had to end. The only thing I didn't like was how everything ended with Tyler. It seemed almost anti-climactic. I was waiting for something bad to happen, and then nothing. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed YA novels or enjoys LGBT novels.
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  • Helene
    January 1, 1970
    This book is truly beautiful, a must read for teenagers especially but for everyone really. The author takes up some really heavy subjects and handle them extremely well. There are so many things going on in this book but it never felt artificial. It's just everyday life told by the brothers Alex and James.Alex struggles to come back from depression and suicide attempt while being shunned by almost everybody. James struggles with his own feelings of shock, anger, helplessness and fear because of This book is truly beautiful, a must read for teenagers especially but for everyone really. The author takes up some really heavy subjects and handle them extremely well. There are so many things going on in this book but it never felt artificial. It's just everyday life told by the brothers Alex and James.Alex struggles to come back from depression and suicide attempt while being shunned by almost everybody. James struggles with his own feelings of shock, anger, helplessness and fear because of Alex's suicide attempt. He has a hard time regaining his trust in Alex (or rather confidence that he will not come home and find his brother dead) and growing into the person and brother he wants to be.The parents are trying to hold everything together but are of course just as shocked and afraid about the "incident".As someone with personal experience with similar situations, both as sister and as stepmother, I think the author explained the feelings of all parties perfectly. Thankfully everyone got out of this stronger and more confident in themselves and their place in life.
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  • Derrick
    January 1, 1970
    Errgh. This book has such great characters and plot. Everything was really well thought out. I especially liked some of the minor characters. Everyone had a story. There were a lot of emotions covered in this book, and it was just really sweet. The only thing I didn't like, especially at he beginning, was the writing style. But it does get better, or at least you get used to it, one of the two, by the middle of the book, so if the writing really bothers you at the beginning of the book, push th Errgh. This book has such great characters and plot. Everything was really well thought out. I especially liked some of the minor characters. Everyone had a story. There were a lot of emotions covered in this book, and it was just really sweet. The only thing I didn't like, especially at he beginning, was the writing style. But it does get better, or at least you get used to it, one of the two, by the middle of the book, so if the writing really bothers you at the beginning of the book, push through because it's worth it. Oh also, it is told in duel perspectives between Alex and his brother James, which I guess is just a personal preference, but I loved that aspect, and it was done really well. Mmmm ya, good stuff.
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  • Mel (who is deeply in love with herself)
    January 1, 1970
    Un.For.Get.Ta.Ble.Stunning in its sheer simplicity.This is one man who understands-really UNDERSTANDS the life of a teenager.No other author I'm aware of could have done it better. Martin Wilson manages to convey teen life, and not only conveys it, but also enhances the reader's comprehension of it.I'm (luckily) still a teen myself, and I have never come across a book which has *nailed* a teenager's experience in this contradictory world so well.Martin Wilson-I applaud you. (Hopefully he's worki Un.For.Get.Ta.Ble.Stunning in its sheer simplicity.This is one man who understands-really UNDERSTANDS the life of a teenager.No other author I'm aware of could have done it better. Martin Wilson manages to convey teen life, and not only conveys it, but also enhances the reader's comprehension of it.I'm (luckily) still a teen myself, and I have never come across a book which has *nailed* a teenager's experience in this contradictory world so well.Martin Wilson-I applaud you. (Hopefully he's working on another book now.)
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  • Leslie Nicoll
    January 1, 1970
    This book had been on my radar for quite a while—it was a Lambda Literary Award nominee in 2008 for Young Adult/Children’s Fiction—but I never got around to reading it. However, as I noted in my review of I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth The Trip, there were three essays at the end, one of which was written by Martin Wilson. That spurred me on to picking up What They Always Tell Us and I am glad I finally did.As I suspect everyone who reads my reviews knows, young adult books are my guilty ple This book had been on my radar for quite a while—it was a Lambda Literary Award nominee in 2008 for Young Adult/Children’s Fiction—but I never got around to reading it. However, as I noted in my review of I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth The Trip, there were three essays at the end, one of which was written by Martin Wilson. That spurred me on to picking up What They Always Tell Us and I am glad I finally did.As I suspect everyone who reads my reviews knows, young adult books are my guilty pleasure. I am always very happy when I find a new one that I can add to my permanent collection. What They Always Tell Us is definitely on that list.The writing style is unique, unusual, and works very well for the story. It is written in the present tense, third person POV and alternates between Alex and James in each chapter. I read one review that suggested the POV and present tense were done to provide some distance; I felt the opposite—I was completely pulled into the story.The story opens with an Alex chapter. It’s November and he’s at home alone and being a bit of a rebel: wearing his father’s ratty bathrobe and eating his cheeseburger and fries dinner off his mother’s best china—and not washing the dishes afterwards. LOL. This is what passes for rebellious for upper middle class kids in Tuscaloosa, Alabama! Alex is by himself because his parents are at a wedding in Nashville. His brother James, who was supposed to be his chaperone for the weekend is off at the La Quinta motel, having a (supposedly) grand old time with his current girlfriend, leaving Alex at home to fend for himself.As we get to know Alex in that first chapter, we learn that he drank a bottle of Pine-Sol at a back-to-school party right after Labor Day. Was it a conscious suicide attempt or just an impulsive, stupid mistake? At the beginning of the book, it’s clear that Alex doesn’t know—coming to terms with what he did, and why, is a major theme of the story. How it’s handled though, is wonderful, and really shows the healing power of love.I can hear the groans now. “Another gay suicide book?” Well, yes and no. Yes because there a suicide theme but no because Alex didn’t drink the Pine-Sol because of being gay, it was more just general all-purpose adolescent angst.Within James’ chapters, there’s also a healthy dose of adolescent angst which I wasn’t expecting. After all, James is popular, smart, and athletic, with a steady stream of girlfriends and a posse of good friends. He set the family standard which is partly why Alex is having such a miserable time. How can he possibly compete with his brother who has it all? The thing is, James doesn’t have it all and comes to realize this—and in the process, learns a great deal about himself, his brother, and their relationship.I didn’t like James at first. It’s a measure of how effectively he’s written that I was rooting for him at the end, just as much as I was rooting for Alex. And Alex, lost soul at the beginning, does get it together and emerges as a whole, healed, and happy person and even gets to experience the wonder of his first love—something that, sadly, still eludes James by the end of the book.All in all, I really loved this story. It was unique and different, but grounded in the reality of adolescent life. There was ambiguity, which is good for a reader’s imagination, but enough closure that the book didn’t feel open-ended or incomplete. All of the characters, from the most minor bit players who barely have any time on page to the leading quartet of Alex, James, Henry, and Nathen are beautifully written and fully realized. And Nathen? I haven’t said anything about him in this review but I dare anyone who reads this book not to fall madly in love with him. You’ve been warned. :-)Highly recommended.published on Reviews by Jessewave, 7/25/2011
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  • Jennifer Wardrip
    January 1, 1970
    Reviewed by Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen for TeensReadToo.comWe all have read stories about two siblings who at first get along and then quickly drift apart... with their outcome up to the author. WHAT THEY ALWAYS TELL US has that similar outline; however, Martin Wilson puts his own spin on it and creates a novel more real and even more original than anything else on the shelf currently.We are introduced to two brothers. First there is James, the older brother who excels in all areas, fr Reviewed by Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen for TeensReadToo.comWe all have read stories about two siblings who at first get along and then quickly drift apart... with their outcome up to the author. WHAT THEY ALWAYS TELL US has that similar outline; however, Martin Wilson puts his own spin on it and creates a novel more real and even more original than anything else on the shelf currently.We are introduced to two brothers. First there is James, the older brother who excels in all areas, from academics to athletics. Then there is Alex, who is now considered to be the outsider. Because of an attempted suicide at a party, not only did his friends abandon him but also his brother.With this incident, James drifts apart from Alex, unsure of what his brother has become. As their life continues, two unlikely people bring them closer together.First is Henry, the boy next door, who is only ten but has family issues of his own as both parents are hardly there for him. For some odd reason, Alex is drawn to him, wanting to be a guardian toward Henry.Then there is Nathen, James' friend who notices Alex's interest and potential in running. At first just helping him out, Nathen's bond with Alex turns into something that not even James could have guessed at.WHAT THEY ALWAYS TELL US is full of heartwarming and breakout scenes that leaves the reader saying one thing: WOW! Certain scenes, such as when Alex confesses his actions and the reconciliation between the brothers, deserve an Oscar for such amazing writing. Martin Wilson develops all four characters in a way that is satisfying, and the chemistry between each of them is so heartfelt.Words just can't describe how powerful of a read WHAT THEY ALWAYS TELL US is. The only advice I can give you is to pick up the novel and read it (just make sure you have a box of tissues right next to you and an entire free day, because you are not going to want to put this novel down once you start!).
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  • Allison
    January 1, 1970
    I had heard a lot of good things about this book and was very excited to read it. I ended up reading it in its entirety on a Saturday and just couldn’t put it down. At first, I was skeptical of the perspective alternating between brothers but, once I was well into the book, I found that it didn’t take away from my reading experience at all. I, maybe predictably, did enjoy Alex’s parts of the story more, however.The actual romance aspect of the book was very well done. In fact, I wish there was m I had heard a lot of good things about this book and was very excited to read it. I ended up reading it in its entirety on a Saturday and just couldn’t put it down. At first, I was skeptical of the perspective alternating between brothers but, once I was well into the book, I found that it didn’t take away from my reading experience at all. I, maybe predictably, did enjoy Alex’s parts of the story more, however.The actual romance aspect of the book was very well done. In fact, I wish there was more of it! I found Nathen to be a very likable and fulfilling character (despite any qualms I might have with his perhaps over-usage of the term ‘buddy’). As with any story, there had to be some sort of drama, so the situation with Tyler and his hate wasn’t any big surprise. Once the book ended on a chapter in James’ point of view, I had closed it and reopened, wishing for an extra chapter to appear to detail just a little bit more about Alex and Nathen’s relationship - that is how much I enjoyed it.As for everything else, the relationships between Alex and James and their neighbor, Henry, and their parents and the kids at school and, well, any other character, were all beautifully drawn. There was never any unnecessary conflict or extra writing or stock characters that could be thrown away. Some of the students’ attitudes towards homosexuality were quite the norm but they were not over exaggerated or blatantly stereotypical.This wasn’t the perfect book written in the most perfect form of prose and outlining a perfect and happy same-sex relationship. It was, however, a well-developed examination at the bond between two brothers and the subsequent friendships that can arise out of a bad situation. Wilson’s novel isn’t one to be missed.
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  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    The parallels in this story to my own life makes it all the more poignant for me. I too have a brother only a year younger than me. Like the book, we were inseparable as kids, often mistaken as twins, but drifted apart as we entered high school. Personality-wise, we are polar opposites. I'm gay and a bit of an introvert, while he's straight and more athletic. It was inevitable that we would pursue different interests. We don't really have much in common anymore, but I've never really lost the fe The parallels in this story to my own life makes it all the more poignant for me. I too have a brother only a year younger than me. Like the book, we were inseparable as kids, often mistaken as twins, but drifted apart as we entered high school. Personality-wise, we are polar opposites. I'm gay and a bit of an introvert, while he's straight and more athletic. It was inevitable that we would pursue different interests. We don't really have much in common anymore, but I've never really lost the feeling that we've always had each others' backs. Even though we're the kind of semi-dysfunctional family that never ever say our emotions out loud (like a lot of large families, we skirt around it with sarcasm and roughhousing), I love my brother, I love my gaggle of sisters, I love my parents, and I love my family, and this book just reminded me of how fiercely heartfelt that love is.As a YA book, I like that the characters are deep and realistic. No childish caricatures, but seen through an undeniably immature viewpoint. It's a perfect portrayal of that chaotic stage in adolescence when you first begin to understand. To see the ugliness the real world emerge behind the fairy tales of childhood. That struggle to find a place, a purpose, and some happiness before you drown in despair. Most of us managed to get through on our own, but most of us also needed a little help, even though we never admitted it. If I could go back to my high school years, I'd have been a little bit kinder. Everyone back then was a little bit lost. I think most adults still are.
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  • wesley
    January 1, 1970
    I remembered my high school days reading this. But it's like seeing it in a different perspective, seeing the bigger picture. I thought of the countless moments of confusion, alienation, anger, frustration, bitterness, fear of the great unknown... multiplied to the nth hormonal level. Reflecting on it, I can see that many of us back then were fighting our own internal battles with each one of us trying to subdue it and keep it low key, thinking, "I must be a freak for feeling this."I remember be I remembered my high school days reading this. But it's like seeing it in a different perspective, seeing the bigger picture. I thought of the countless moments of confusion, alienation, anger, frustration, bitterness, fear of the great unknown... multiplied to the nth hormonal level. Reflecting on it, I can see that many of us back then were fighting our own internal battles with each one of us trying to subdue it and keep it low key, thinking, "I must be a freak for feeling this."I remember being annoyed when treated like a kid by adults, remember always hurrying to grow up, remember being told to act like an adult for being immature... it's confusing as hell. All of these coupled with the many changes to the body and the constant peer pressure, adolescence is definitely an overwhelming and over dramatic period. As I was reading the book, I am able to finally grasp my level of maturity today as compared to the person I was years back. I can't help but laugh at the irony of being irritated by these fictional teenagers when I once was in their shoes before. I really am old, damn it!This book allows us to reflect on the the time that was, how foreign a teenage life can be. It is an interesting book -- one which lets us conclude that adolescence is indeed a time for self-exploration and self-discovery. It is a journey of the self. Sure, we were a bunch of f*ck-ups back then but in many respects, those experiences have contributed in bulk to our totality as a person today. We can't disregard. We can't avoid, either.
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