Three Little Words

Three Little Words

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by Sarah N. Harvey

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Sixteen-year-old Sid barely remembers his birth mother and has no idea who his father was. Raised on an idyllic island by loving foster parents, Sid would be content to stay there forever, drawing, riding his bike, hanging out with his friend Chloe and helping out with Fariza, a newly arrived foster child. But when a stranger named Phil arrives on the island with


Sixteen-year-old Sid barely remembers his birth mother and has no idea who his father was. Raised on an idyllic island by loving foster parents, Sid would be content to stay there forever, drawing, riding his bike, hanging out with his friend Chloe and helping out with Fariza, a newly arrived foster child. But when a stranger named Phil arrives on the island with disturbing news about his birth family—including a troubled younger brother—Sid leaves all that is familiar to help find the sibling he didn't know existed.

What he discovers is a family fractured by mental illness, but also united by strong bonds of love and compassion. As Sid searches for his brother, gets to know his grandmother, and worries about meeting his biological mother, he realizes that there will never be a simple answer to the question, Am I my brother's keeper?

Editorial Reviews

Library Media Connection
"A moving story about the bonds of family...This is a highly engaging, high interest novel that addresses tough family issues. The reader easily empathizes with Sid as he grapples with tough decisions."
Sal's Fiction Addiction blog
"The characters are wonderful and well-drawn...Chloe's exuberance is a perfect foil to Sid's need for peace and quiet daily. She provides a bit of needed humor along the way. Each has a unique voice and plays an important role in the unfolding drama...The setting itself seems like a character that soothes with a peaceful calm that envelops those living there. Families come in all shapes, and this book is testament to that."
Resource Links
"Harvey does a good job crafting her characters. Sid is believable as a loner artist with a soft-spot for the downtrodden."
TriState YA Book Review Committee
"An absolute gem of a book about what makes a family a family as well as friendship, love, tolerance and so much more...As a coming-of-age book, this is a winner...Highly recomended."
Southwest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries (SWON)
"Realistic, moving, and paints a wonderful picture of nontraditional families."
YALSA YA Galley Teen Review
"Because of its great characters this story is multidimensional, realistic, and human, yet also relatable, optimistic, and bright."
"Harvey does a beautiful job balancing the story's many plot threads, while creating realistic, compelling characters. Identity, mental illness, social security (and insecurity), racial concerns, and recovery from trauma are all themes that surface throughout the novel without ever overwhelming the strong, skillfully told story."
VOYA - Lauri J. Vaughan
Sixteen-year-old Sid is happy, despite a rough start. He lives on an island in British Columbia with his foster parents, Megan and Caleb, who have hosted a myriad of troubled children since beginning with Sid fourteen years ago. Fariza, fragile, terrified and silently harboring secrets, has just arrived. Patiently cultivated by Sid, Megan, Caleb, and Sid’s friend, Chloe, Fariza’s healing begins. All is well and getting better--until Phil arrives. Phil, a friend of Sid’s biological mother, is desperate. Devi, who Sid has not spoken to or seen since his abandonment, has disappeared. Worse still, Devi’s thirteen-year-old son Wain--a half-brother Sid is just hearing about-- is also missing. Phil thinks Sid might be able to help. So begins Sid’s journey to find his brother, a journey he is not sure he wants to take to find a brother he is not sure he wants to know. Sid, regularly confronted with the differences and oddities demanded of a foster family, is not easily rattled. Now he finds himself squarely in his discomfort zone. Harvey’s expert pacing of Sid’s story is slowly hypnotic. Her characterization is top notch. She patiently reveals their personalities. Chloe, in particular, is a delightful supporting character who adds power to the novel. These characters are well constructed, uniquely defined by their actions and speech, and eminently engaging. Harvey does not shy away from the reality of difficult situations and faithfully depicts Devi’s mental illness, Wain’s troubled existence, and Fariza’s thaw from the chilling events that brought her to Sid’s life. An excellent read, put this book in the hands of fans of Louis Sacher’s Holes (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998/Voya December 1998). Ages 11 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Sixteen-year-old Sid is a budding artist who lives with his beloved foster parents, Megan and Caleb, on an island in British Columbia. His parents have just taken in Fariza, a girl who distrusts all males and does not speak at all. Soon, Sid and Fariza are together and Fariza grows comfortable around him. Just as they begin to make a connection, Phil arrives. He is a friend of Sid's birth mother, Devi, and needs Sid's help. He explains that Sid has a half brother, Wain, who has gone missing, and he needs help finding him. After deciding to go, Sid meets his wealthy grandmother. He visits his mother's studio and discovers where his artistic abilities come from. And, he eventually finds his brother, who also had no idea that he has a sibling. Sid soon realizes how lucky he is to have been taken in by his foster parents, as he has manners, a moral compass, and a quiet life that he loves. The plot is a bit far-fetched, and loose ends are tied up all too quickly in a pretty package at the book's end. However, the author offers insight into what it is like to deal with a parent's mental illness. Sid is too good to be true, and his ability to stay calm in all crises will either be inspiring or too saccharine for readers.—Lindsay Klemas, JM Rapport School for Career Development, Bronx, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Sid, 16, is an odd, orderly soul. He wears black T-shirts and jeans exclusively, sketches obsessively, hangs out with his best friend, Chloe, and helps out with Caleb and Megan's other foster kids on their peaceful British Columbia island. At age 2, Sid (short for Siddhartha) was taken from his bipolar mother, Devi, who'd neglected him; now only his private sketchbooks hint at his difficult history. After he shares these with mute, traumatized foster child Fariza, they create stories together, a healing process interrupted when Devi's friend Phil arrives. Sid learns he has a 13-year-old half brother, Wain (short for Gawain), who's gone missing. Phil enlists Sid's help in searching for him in Victoria. There, Sid discovers the source of his artistic gifts, meets his congenial grandmother and easily locates his brother, who's touchy, sullen and black. Many questions go unasked and unanswered. Why, after 14 years, haven't Sid's foster parents adopted him? Do the boys ever think about their birth fathers? What is it like to be the black son of a white mother in such a white world? Appealing, original characters--especially Sid, eccentric but high-functioning--are a strong suit. While strangely tone deaf to adoption and transracial family issues, Harvey portrays parental mental illness and the long-term effects of childhood trauma with compassionate insight. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)
HL680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Sarah N. Harvey has written for both children and young adults. Some of her books have been translated into Korean, German and Slovenian. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia, where she works as a children's book editor. For more information, visit

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Three Little Words 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didnt even read it bro!