School Library Journal
Danny Silver, 23, is a workaholic advertising executive; his laid-back, 17-year-old brother, Elijah, absolutely drives him wild with his untied sneakers and lack of focus. The teen, who once idolized his sibling, now feels that he would never want to be Danny. The brothers are tricked by their parents into vacationing together in Italy. They both dread the experience, believing that they have little in common. Once abroad, they tiptoe around one another, connecting when they’re in museums together, a reminder of childhood occasions spent similarly with their mother and father. They both doubt that there is enough between them to rekindle a bond. And then Elijah has a chance encounter with a college dropout with whom he falls head over heels in love. When he introduces Julia to Danny, she sings that she’s attracted to him, too, and that catapults Danny into a situation in which he has to determine his priorities. The insightful and gently humorous narration alternates between the thoughts and experiences of the two brothers. Teens will relate deeply to Elijah and gain insight into Danny’s attitudes as well. Levithan, author of Boy Meets Boy (2003) and The Realm of Possibility (2004, both Knopf) gets better and better with each book. This novel will appeal to a broader audience than the earlier titles and is a priority choice.
…Levithan works his magic creating two real and round narrators in a series of poetic vignettes. The alternating point of view not only fleshes out the brothers and their relationship, it also keeps the simple story moving. Obviously written or at least set before the Iraq War, this beautiful glimpse of fraternal love will be at home in any public library’s YA section.
Gr. 10-12. Elijah and Danny are brothers who have grown apart. Elijah is a mellow, kind, live-in-the-moment, pot-smoking teen who likes to wonder about things and to wander without a plan. Danny, six years Elijah’s senior, is a young up-and-comer with a prestigious New York law firm, who dresses meticulously and exerts a rigid control both on his own life and on the lives of those around him. In an attempt to draw their sons back together, the boys’ parents arrange a vacation to Italy. But the appearance of a girl who may have the power to separate the two brothers even further means the trip may not reach its intended goal. Levithan’s latest is a stylized, pensive, almost mournful piece that outwardly travels through three of Italy’s most famed cities but is focused almost exclusively on the interior landscapes of two uniquely sympathetic young men. At times overly self-aware, the book’s literary complexity and minimal action make this a title for older readers attracted to mature psychological and philosophical perspectives. - Holly Koelling
Elijah and Danny are brothers who were once close but have lost the ability to connect with each other. Danny, in his early 20s, has gotten a job he is proud of, while Elijah, still in high school, sees life as something to experience. They each feel the other is unwilling to try to get to know them as they are now. Their parents interfere with the best intentions and maneuver their sons into taking a trip to Italy together. The cities the boys explore serve initially to emphasize the disconnect they feel from each other. The two brothers come to appreciate being with each other, especially when a new friend proves to be less than Elijah had hoped. As the ten-day vacation draws to a close, Danny and Elijah each have an epiphany that is made stronger when they realize it is shared. Readers will identify with the brothers, especially the one that corresponds to their own sibling rank. A lyrical, well-written story that shows the ties siblings feel whether they want to or not. - Vicky Ludas