My Own Dear Brother
Have you ever picked up a book, read the teaser on the dust jacket, and thought, “This is going to be right up my alley!”? That’s how I felt about My Own Dear Brother. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the novel did not live up to my dust jacket-induced expectations.
Set in Austria in 1944, the book is divided into a number of consecutively running plot lines, with Ursula, a 14-year-old girl, tying them together. Unfortunately, her character is not strong enough to pull this off. None of the characters in the book are really fleshed out enough for us to care deeply for them or their experiences.
The most successful section of the book deals with the relationship between Ursula and Schosi, a mentally handicapped boy, and his rescue from a Mengele-esque medical facility. Sadly, in real life, this sort of daring rescue would have been so impossible as to impede my ability to suspend disbelief enough to be fully engrossed in the story.
The lack of character complexity and backstory does this novel a disservice. For instance, we are never told why her bother is so damaged or why Ursula was so attached to him. We hear little of the relationships between the women outside of their physical location as neighbors.
This book promised so much but, sadly, did not make good on that promise.
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