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Posted August 5, 2011
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo
There are two young men in Chris Lynch's new novel with reason to be angry. Robert and Alexander have been raised by a single mother who struggles to make ends meet. Robert had the unpleasant experience of meeting his father once, while Alexander knows nothing about his sperm donor. The two brothers are different as night and day, but still living at home and still sharing the same tiny room, they have developed a sometimes strained but tolerable relationship. Robert, the older brother, attempts to describe his unusual sibling. He wishes others would understand Alexander (Xan). In fact, he wishes he could understand him. Xan definitely marches to the beat of a different drummer. Although smart enough, he quit school and spends his days just hanging around, while Robert works hard for a local mechanic so he can contribute to the household expenses. At the same time, he also attends the local community college. These different approaches to life make for almost daily arguments. Even though Xan irritates Robert, he tries to get his younger brother involved in activities that will get him out of the house and hopefully build Xan's self-esteem. For a short time, soccer appears to be a possible solution, but Xan's erratic behavior ends up turning the team against him. When Robert learns that Xan is starting to attend a class at the community college aimed at inspiring social activism, he has hopes that maybe things are changing. Unfortunately, Xan gets involved with a less than desirable group who call themselves the Good Causes. When the leader of the group reveals some radical ideas that get him kicked out of the Social Responsibility class, Xan is already deeply involved with the group. Robert watches from a distance until he discovers the group's activities are becoming more violent. He fears Xan's need for acceptance will result in his involvement in a dangerous situation. In the meantime, Robert's attempts to protect their mother from problems of her own have him battling his own angry impulses. Author Chris Lynch expertly portrays two young adults struggling to find their way in a world out to stack the odds against them. Alexander is a typical misfit lucky enough to have a brother willing to stand up for him. Robert's hard work and confidence is inspiring, even when it becomes obvious that he isn't as sure of himself as he would like people to believe. Lynch makes great use of humor to lighten the tense moments in this sometimes rather dark tale.
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Posted January 27, 2013
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