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The Brothers Story

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Teenage twins Kit and Christy have grown up amid grinding poverty in their Essex village. As Christy has been “simple” from birth, Kit is literally his brother’s keeper. But the latest hardships visited upon their country home by the Great Frost of 1683–84 bring Kit to frustration and despair, and he abandons Christy to make his way to London, seeking to better himself. There he finds work as an apprentice to a struggling artist and much else to take his mind off what he has left behind. But the time comes when ...

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2009 Hardcover New in New dust jacket 0374309922. This book is brand new; never used or opened. No remainder marks.; 0.9 x 8.5 x 5.8 Inches; 288 pages.

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The Brothers Story

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Overview

Teenage twins Kit and Christy have grown up amid grinding poverty in their Essex village. As Christy has been “simple” from birth, Kit is literally his brother’s keeper. But the latest hardships visited upon their country home by the Great Frost of 1683–84 bring Kit to frustration and despair, and he abandons Christy to make his way to London, seeking to better himself. There he finds work as an apprentice to a struggling artist and much else to take his mind off what he has left behind. But the time comes when he can no longer ignore the problem of his brother.

A fascinating portrait of a young person struggling to balance family and freedom, The Brothers Story is also a frank depiction of Restoration London in its bawdy, raucous glory.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Sturtevant’s book is not only a stunning story but a challenging and deeply satisfying work of social conscience.” —Starred, Booklist

“An era comes alive in this tale of a young man's awakening to his life's call.” —Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Sturtevant . . . subtly weaves in details that bring the setting to life, including the sights and sounds of London.” —VOYA

“Packed with authentic period detail, this is a lively adventure that merits a sequel.” Horn Book

Solid, engrossing effort for a teen audience.” —Starred, Kirkus Reviews

Montika Allen-Atkinson
A young boy faces love, sadness, and coming to terms with his own sexuality. Kit's mother implores him to fill the "head of the house" duties after his father dies; these duties include providing the daily basic essentials during a difficult winter, which often requires him to fabricate, beg, and steal. Kit and his twin brother Christy, born into extreme poverty in an Essex village, are close, but Kit's love for his "simple" identical twin is often challenged. Is he his brother's keeper? Kit both involves Christy in schemes and ploys and protects him from others taunting his ignorance. Kit abandons his brother to find a new life in London, a place he believes is filled with jobs, money, and rich soil. He becomes an apprentice, but can he, in good conscience, continue to stay away from his codependent, suffering family? Reviewer: Montika Allen-Atkinson
Publishers Weekly
Set against the bitter English winter of 1683–1684, Sturtevant's (A True and Faithful Narrative) moving coming-of-age tale follows the adventures of teenage Kit, who impulsively flees his Essex parish and the burden imposed by his “simple” but adoring twin, Christy, to seek his livelihood in London. Finding employment as servant to a painter, Kit delights in his new freedom and the town's busy energy, while nagged by guilt over having stolen from his former mistress and abandoned his dependent brother. Although barely able to read, Kit is biblically literate and ponders scriptural applications to his own life, particularly the story of Joseph, saved by his caring brother Reuben. Kit's wrestling with situations of moral complexity leads him to question some of the era's culturally accepted religious mores, providing a subtle but enlightening exploration of class and gender roles. A budding romance illuminates the particular challenges faced by women at a time when female sexuality was blamed for many evils (“everyone knowed how lustful women was”). An era comes alive in this tale of a young man's awakening to his life's call. Ages 14–up. (Nov.)
VOYA - Mary Ann Harlan
This novel takes place during the winter of 1683 to 1684, a season that some believe was the coldest winter ever. Kit's family is poor, and without his father to help provide, they are freezing and starving. Fifteen-year-old Kit thinks he could make his way in the world if he could leave his family—in particular his twin brother, Christy, who is "simple"—behind and go to London. After tragedy strikes the family, Kit finds an opportunity to break free, parting with his brother. Finding his way to London, Kit discovers that making his way there is not as easy as he imagined nor is leaving Christy behind a simple task. Sturtevant uses Essex dialect to immerse the reader into the story and the era. She subtly weaves in details that bring the setting to life, including the sights and sounds of London. Kit is a historical version of a teen full of angst, struggling with his desires and obligations. He finds himself in love and torn between his hormones and his beliefs. He wants freedom from his twin, yet he cannot leave behind his thoughts of Christy. He wants to "rise in the world," and yet he is unsure of what he truly wants to do in this compelling story. Reviewer: Mary Ann Harlan
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Engrossing historical fiction, set during the Great Frost of 1683–1684. Fifteen-year-old Kit and his "simple" twin, Christy, live in an Essex village with their mother and younger brother, Michael. Having no wood to burn, Kit's mother demands that Kit find "a little charity," in other words, go begging among the neighbors. Tragedy strikes when Michael dies; Kit and Christy go into service, where the slow boy is mercilessly beaten for his mistakes. Desperate to find a way out for them both, Kit escapes to London, where he finds work with a pious and fashionable tailor. London is teeming with excitement, danger, and temptations. Readers will quickly empathize with Kit; his conflicted feelings toward his brother, a mixture of great tenderness and shame, are sensitively drawn. He experiences the beginnings of his sexual awakening in scenes that are occasionally ribald but never gratuitous. Sturtevant invokes the cacophony of noises, smells, and sights of London, along with the sorrows and kindnesses found in daily life. The demanding conditions of apprenticeship, as well as the misfortunes that often befell the servant class, are movingly told. A satisfactory ending brings the novel to its hopeful conclusion. Sturtevant's fans will delight in another well-crafted story, while newcomers will certainly seek out her other novels.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Vividly set against the frigid backdrop of one of the coldest winters England ever experienced, in 1683-84, Sturtevant's tale presents a fully realized character in Kit, an impoverished 15-year-old determined to find a better life, even though it means leaving behind Christopher, his dependent, mentally disabled identical twin. After stealing a valuable scarf, he flees to London and is taken in by a talented but angst-ridden artist. Obsessed with Priscilla, an attractive young servant, Kit spends ample time worrying about whether or not he'll ever satisfy his sexual (and emotional) craving for her-and what will happen to his soul if he does. Thorough research has helped in the creation of a well-drawn, believable world: bawdy, filthy and freezing, with styles of speech based on regional dialects, clearly different from modern yet not challenging to read. Inclusion of a few ribald period verses and Kit's mildly racy sexual encounters mark this solid, engrossing effort for a teen audience. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374309923
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 11/10/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 920L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

KATHERINE STURTEVANT has previously written At the Sign of the Star, a Booklist Editors’ Choice, and its sequel, A True and Faithful Narrative, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, among other accolades. The author lives in Berkeley, California.

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