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3.8 39
by Brent Runyon

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Maybe everything will be different here. Maybe I should drive away and never come back. Maybe my brother didn't mean to. Maybe my brother was right. Maybe I can get someone to have sex with me. Maybe no one will ever love me. Maybe I should be an actor. Maybe I shouldn't pretend to be deaf.

Maybe if I mouth the words no one will know I'm not singing. But maybe


Maybe everything will be different here. Maybe I should drive away and never come back. Maybe my brother didn't mean to. Maybe my brother was right. Maybe I can get someone to have sex with me. Maybe no one will ever love me. Maybe I should be an actor. Maybe I shouldn't pretend to be deaf.

Maybe if I mouth the words no one will know I'm not singing. But maybe someone, somehow, will hear me anyway.

Brent Runyon offers a raw, wrenching novel of a boy on the edge. It's a powerful story about love and loss and death and anger and the near impossibility for a sixteen-year-old boy to both understand how he feels and to make himself heard.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Sensitively-wrought novel . . . will quickly draw teens into the story and entice them to read between the lines to understand Brian’s underlying sorrow.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred

“Destined in this reviewer’s eyes to become a young adult classic. . . . If one has ever looked at a male youth and wondered what was going on inside his head, this book will go a long way toward answering some of those questions.”—VOYA

“This is a superb exploration of sudden loss, romantic disappointment, and general adolescent angst.”—School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
Less intense but just as candid as his debut The Burn Journals, Runyon's sensitively wrought novel explores a high-school student coming to terms with his older brother's death. Through Brian's first-person narrative, the author demonstrates how Brian's life has been rocked by the tragedy, beginning with his move to a new house and school, where no one knows that his family has suffered a loss. The protagonist's attitude towards teachers, classes and students reveals a lack of emotional commitment and bottled-up anger, which only begins to surface after he joins a theater group and lands a part in a play. Sean does not speak outwardly about his grief (details about his brother's car accident are not revealed until the end of the book), but readers will sense his emptiness at school and at home, where his parents continue their lives as though everything were normal. Sean's first attempt to confess his loss (which occurs right after he loses his virginity) causes him more pain than relief but signifies a turning point in his healing process. Brian's intimate, often humorous narrative exposes his overactive sexual drive, his impressions of people, and his day-to-day frustrations, which will quickly draw teens into the story and entice them to read between the lines to understand Brian's underlying sorrow. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Matthew Weaver
Destined in this reviewer's eyes to become a young adult classic, this novel follows Brian as he moves to a new school in the wake of a mystery surrounding his older brother. Brian's struggle to get acclimated finds him hanging with the local thespians, brushing up against random girls in the hallway to feel them up, and wondering if it is okay to have sex with a girl whom he really does not even like. Brian is shut off emotionally and surrounded by people going through their own stories of pain and drama, until the book's haunting conclusion, in which he takes one final car ride with his brother. The final scene hits readers like a bullet and casts even more shadows upon everything that came before. Runyon's first book after The Burn Journals (Knopf, 2004/VOYA October 2004), the account of his own suicide attempt, is gritty stuff, but it is also powerful and realistic-perhaps one of the best portrayals of the American adolescent male, even at his darkest. Not every reader will like or do everything that Brian does-his all-encompassing pursuit of sex comes laden with heavy profanity and alcohol-but by the end of the book, it is a virtual guarantee that he will have expressed at least one thought shared by all teenagers. If one has ever looked at a male youth and wondered what was going on inside his head, this book will go a long way toward answering some of those questions-which for some will be a pretty scary thought.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-A novel about the loss of a sibling should be painful and poignant, and this one is both, but it's also surprisingly funny. Brian, 16, is a smart but ordinary student coping with family tragedy-though readers don't get the details until almost the end of the book-and also adjusting to a new high school. His first-person, present-tense narrative lets readers peer into his often-random thoughts as he moves through his classes, makes new friends, and dates all the wrong girls. Meanwhile, his grief is something he pushes to the background. Brian's voice is clear and authentic; his thoughts come across as uncensored and raw, ranging from angrily self-destructive to sharply observant. His reflections on the opposite sex are both amusing and sad-for instance, he struggles to decide whether to break up with a girlfriend who annoys him, but who may offer him a chance to lose his virginity. Slowly, he reconnects with his parents, figures out a few things about himself, and comes to terms with his brother's death. Readers looking for action and adventure won't find it here, but this is a superb exploration of sudden loss, romantic disappointment, and general adolescent angst.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Runyon follows the critical success of Burn Journals (2004) with a foray into fiction that features another troubled teenaged boy. The 16-year-old protagonist finds himself awash in self-doubt and insecurity when his family moves to a new town after the tragic death of his older, more gregarious, brother. Plagued with "maybes," ("maybe she'll have sex with me," "maybe I should join the Thespians"), the young man's most worrisome doubts are that his brother might have crashed his car on purpose, and that he might be heading down the same road of self-destruction. When at school or with friends, his grief is held at bay; however, the few scenes in which the boy interacts with his parents are particularly poignant in their portrayal of how a family tries to move forward despite their heartache. The common insecurities of adolescence-specifically of hormonally charged teenaged boys-coupled with the added drama and intrigue surrounding the brother's accident, make this an accessible work for a wide, albeit older, teen audience. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.24(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.49(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

This sucks. We’re moving. The truck just left with all our stuff and my mom and dad are waiting for me in the car. We’re about to leave. I can’t believe this. I can’t believe we’re moving away from the only place I’ve lived in my whole life.

I lean into the car and say, “Wait, I think I forgot something.”

I go back into the house one last time. It’s so weird to be in here with everything empty. The couch used to be right there. There’s an impression in the carpet where it used to be—the ghost of a couch.

I walk down the hall to my room. There’s nothing left. The posters are off the walls—all that’s left are a few pieces of tape and the hole from when I tried to do a flip and put my foot right through the drywall.

My brother’s room is right across the hall. The door is closed and I don’t want to open it. When we were little we used to barricade ourselves into his room with those cardboard bricks and then bust through like we were the Incredible Hulk. I know it’s empty, but I just can’t stand to open the door and look in. I don’t want to see it empty. I want to remember it full.

There is a sign on his door that he made in Shop class. The word Maybe carved into the wood. It’s stuck on the door with some heavy-duty adhesive. Mom told me to leave it because she didn’t want to ruin the door. Fuck that. I tear it off, and some of the paint with it. I just want to have something.

I run out the front door and slam it behind me one last time. My parents are still waiting in the car. They’re sitting in the front seats being totally quiet. My dad is driving, my mom is crying, and I’m sitting in the back by myself.


Mom drives me to my new high school. Classes start in three days, and I’m supposed to meet my new guidance counselor and choose my schedule. Jesus, why do I have to do this? Why can’t someone else do this for me?

I’m sure my guidance counselor is going to be some old guy in a terrible suit and a tie that’s about six inches too short and just lie on his belly. He’s going to have this terrible breath and probably be mixing whiskey in with his coffee.

Mom drops me off out front and says she’s going to do some errands. “I’ll pick you up in an hour.” An hour? Why do I need a whole hour?

I walk through the front doors and stand in the lobby.

The school is totally empty. When a place that is usually full of people is totally empty, it’s really weird. The floors are all waxed and shiny, and it smells like heavy-duty toxic lemon cleaner.

The only place that even has lights on is the main office right in front of me.

The lady behind the desk is old but has jet-black hair and one eye that is looking at the door I just came through. The other eye is looking at me.

She says, “Hello, son. Can I help you?” Her voice is unbelievably high—like a fire-engine siren.

I say, “I’m here to meet my guidance counselor.”

The lady is wearing a muumuu—like the thing that people from Hawaii wear, except I don’t think she is from Hawaii. She asks my last name and I tell her, and she searches for a while in this really ancient computer and then looks up at me and at the door and smiles.

She says, “You’re with Mr. Scott.”

“Okay, how do I find him?”

“Follow the drumming.”

I walk out of the office and stand in the hall for a second. Was she saying that Mr. Scott was like the band director or something? There isn’t any drumming that I can hear.

Wait, now I hear the drumming. It just started. It’s not, like, crappy jazz drumming or marching-band drumming, it’s straight up rock-and-roll drumming. Real kick-ass—bass-snare-ba-bass-bass-snare—drumming.

I walk down the hall toward the sound. I get so close I feel the bass drum in my chest.

I pull open the doors to the auditorium and stand in the back and watch the guy play. He has his drum kit set up in the orchestra pit, and he’s just going crazy on the drums.

He has long hair and he’s wearing some sort of cutoff shirt, and his arms are a total blur.

I move closer to get a better look at how fast his arms are moving from drum to drum, and then he sees me and stops. “Hey,” he says. “Sorry, I didn’t know anyone was in here.”

I say, “You didn’t have to stop.” I mean, he’s a pretty damn good drummer.

“No. No. I’m almost done.” He’s out of breath. “Do you need me for something?”

“Well, I don’t know. I guess you’re supposed to be my guidance counselor.”

“Whoa. Okay. Cool. Let’s do it.”

He takes me back to his office and fills out a bunch of forms for me. He signs me up for all my required classes: Latin II, Chemistry, English, Algebra II, and U.S. History. I sign up for an elective called Visual Language, because it sounds cool and I like movies.

He says, “Okay, Brian, you’ve got one elective left. Third period. And the only classes that are open are Shop and Chorus.” He looks at me like the choice is pretty obvious. Take Shop and get your fingers cut off, or take Chorus and learn something about music.

My brother took Shop, so I sign up for Chorus.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Brent Runyon is a writer and regular contributor to public radio programs including This American Life, where portions of his memoir, The Burn Journals first aired. Mr. Runyon lives in Woods Hole, MA.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Maybe 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
In MAYBE by Brent Runyon, Brian's unpredictable behaviors make it hard to know him at first. In fact, I disliked Brian so much in the beginning and didn't know if I wanted to continue reading the book. He didn't share any deep thoughts and tried to cop cheap feels on girls at his new school. Even Brian admitted that he was a pervert. And an a**hole. At least we agreed on something.

So I decided to give him a chance. And I'm very glad I did.

Brian began the book being p.o.'d about having to move to a new town and go to a new high school. As Brian left his old house he ripped a sign off of his brother's bedroom door. It was a sign his brother had made in shop class. He "just wants to have something." I didn't know what that "something" was, but figured he wanted a part of his brother with him. Yet when Brian registered for classes at his new school he had to decide between chorus and shop. His brother took shop, so Brian picked chorus.

As Brian began to get comfortable at school, he made friends with a group of students involved in theater. Thespians. He made guy friends, had a few girlfriends, but seemed to only think about how he could get laid. Or he thought about his brother. Brian struggled between feelings of anger towards his brother, fondness, and terrible longing for him.

Throughout most of the book Brian had a difficult time showing people anything real about him. His parents were the same way. Neither Brian nor his parents ever said much. They sat through silent meals, found reasons to leave the room when others joined them. And his brother continued to not be around.

However, as Brian got closer to people, he began to let them into his heart.

But only a little.

And when Brian allowed himself to think about real feelings, he wondered if maybe he would feel better if he actually talked about what bothered him. What no one in his family would say.


Maybe he could let a person get close to him.


MAYBE is a heart-wrenching book for anyone who has ever had feelings bottled up inside. It's for anyone who has been confused, sad, hurt, and angry all at the same time. If you have ever been reluctant to let someone close to you because they may hurt you or leave you, then you will know exactly why Brian is hurting. You'll ache for his emptiness and celebrate his attempts to reach out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i disagree with all the people that said this book was horrible. i recently had a death in my family, and i found myself relating alot to brian's pain and anger, and how hard it was to deal with. and about the whole cussing thing...its realistic, whats wrong with that? same with the sex and drinking, people need to stop pretending and open their eyes to the real world, this is how it is. i like how the author didnt try and hide the truth. it was raw, and that only made it better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sex, drugs, and drama are the major topics of discussion in this novel by Brent Runyon. The story opens with Brian moving from an old house to a new city. The plot and characters are never explicitly named, but we, the readers, are on a first name basis with all of them. The storytelling is at points disjointed, but is pretty consistent with what I understand the teenage male thought patterns are to be. Liberally sprinkled with profanity and attempts to seduce or grope anything female, this was a book that was difficult to read. On the other hand, my teenage son is engrossed. As the plot progresses, we learn that Brian and his family are trying to cope with the death of Brian¿s older brother with whom Brian had a bit of a love/hate relationship. The story provides some rather poignant snippets relative to teens trying to find where they belong, but the reader should beware, the vernacular is what one would expect from locker room talk. The book lends itself to discussion about teen sexuality, drug use, and peer pressure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a decent book however the book "burn journals" was better!
ItsSerene More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! We always answer "maybe" to questions and after reading this, i knew why we like saying it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe was by far the best book I've ever read. The way it was written left me speechless at the end. It made me create a different outlook on life. I began to notice all of the beauty in the world. I've never been so touched by a book in my life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I read burn journals by brent runyon and decided to try this book, too. Im glad i did!! A very good book thats hard to put down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book would be another stupid teen book. However it turned out to be one of the best books ive ever read. At first Brian seemed like your average teenage boy but as i read deeper into the book, i really felt bad for him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mckenzie Labron More than 1 year ago
When i first saw this book i didnt think it would be that good.... i was definitely wrong... this was one of the best books i have ever read... i really hated brian at first but not far into the book i couldnt help feeling bad for him.... this book perfectly showcases the life of a teen who feels alone...
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little_redAM More than 1 year ago
This book was wroten very well i liked it alot it keep me into the book almost the whole time i didnt wanna put this book down, and i hate reading but this book was great, i would read it again if i had the time to but i dont i would reccomed this book to others. It was great !!! =)))
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeenScene More than 1 year ago
I loved this book . It really made me think . Im not the type of person that can just pick up a book and sit there and read it unless it is really interest me . My friend had this book , and she told me to read a part . I read the part and the whole friggin' chapter . Then I was beggin' for the book everyday . Great Book .
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NiKKi_Dee More than 1 year ago
This is the best I have ever read. I am a big reader. Something about this book made me fall in love with it. I made many of my friends read it, and the also enoy it. It helped me learn more about how peoples minds think differently. All I can say is READ IT READ IT READ IT!I know after one time reading it, I want to buy it and read it every night. -nicole