My brother's keeper
Booklist Reviews 2016 October #2
*Starred Review* Fourteen-year-old Julian is a damaged boy, taciturn and withdrawn, painfully shy and still bereft from the death of his parents when he was a child. A poor student with illegible handwriting, he is often the subject of teachers' scorn and classmates' teasing. As a result, he regularly skips classes to hide in a secret room he has found. His home life is even worse: he is the ward of his uncle by marriage, a cold, distant, dangerous man who often punishes Julian cruelly, whipping him with a switch and lacerating the skin on his torso. Things begin to gradually change when he encounters Adam, a teenager who had once been Julian's foster brother before the uncle took custody. Adam, who had ADHD as a child, is still a restless but exuberant, happy presence, beloved by fellow students and teachers alike. When he unofficially adopts Julian, he brings light into the boy's hitherto dark existence, though danger still lurks. The two boys tell their respective, affecting stories in first-person voices that perfectly reflect their characters and rive the story's compelling action. Roe's debut may lack subtlety, but it makes up for it with memorable characters and high drama. A page-turner with a lot of compassion. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2017 Fall
Years after his parents' unexpected deaths, freshman Julian is reunited with senior Adam, his former foster brother. In alternating chapters, Adam invites painfully shy Julian into his friend group, and Julian struggles to accept his kindness while privately suffering under an increasingly abusive uncle. This tender and moving story highlights a unique friendship between two likable and dynamic young male protagonists. Copyright 2017 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
PW Reviews 2016 October #3
Roe draws from her work with at-risk teens to create her first novel, a psychologically taut tale of foster brothers unexpectedly reunited. The story alternates between the perspectives of Adam, the son of a social worker, and Julian, who lived at Adam's house for a time after his parents died. Seven years later, Julian, who currently lives with his uncle, enters the same high school where Adam is a senior. Adam again finds himself playing the role of big brother to Julian, but besides having grown older, some things about Julian have changed: he's quieter, his clothes don't fit, and he seems to be sick too often. After drawing grim conclusions about Julian's home life and guardian, Adam opts not to speak out, a decision that could have serious consequences. Roe gives a close-up view of two teens with disabilities (Julian has dyslexia, Adam has been diagnosed with ADHD) while building a sharp contrast between their views of the world and sense of normalcy. Written with honesty and compassion, this book will resonate with a wide range of readers. Ages 12–up. Agent: Peter Steinberg, Foundry Literary + Media. (Jan.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.