FICTION

The Brave

Feiwel & Friends. Jun. 2020. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250247759.
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Gr 5 Up–Collin may be in middle school, but readers of all ages will relate to his journey of self-discovery. Collin is neurodiverse; he counts every letter that is spoken to him and compulsively says the resulting number out loud. This makes him a target for bullies. His father is cold and, after yet another blow-up at school, he sends Collin to live with the mother he has never met. She is Ojibwe, and lives on a reservation in Minnesota. This move appears to be a terrifying life change, but it ends up being wonderful. Collin meets family, learns about Native customs, and becomes friends with Orenda, the girl next door. Through his friendship with Orenda, Collin accepts things about himself, learns to trust, and grows stronger both physically and emotionally. However, Orenda is terminally ill. Ultimately, he learns to give her strength in return. Collin finds inspiration in the books that Orenda introduces him to, specifically the novels of Adriana Mather. Ghosts, spiritualism, Ojibwe culture, and the ability to find wonder in everyday events all blend seamlessly into a powerful coming-of-age story.
VERDICT This is an amazing debut full of heart, authenticity, and courage. A recommended first purchase for libraries serving middle graders and teens.

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