The Half Brother

Holly LeCraw. Doubleday, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-385-53195-5
In LeCraw’s wildly melodramatic sophomore novel (after The Swimming Pool), Charlie Garrett is a Southern boy who graduates from Harvard and finds a teaching position at the Abbott School in north-central Massachusetts. There, he meets Preston Bankhead, the school’s commanding chaplain, and his 12-year-old daughter, May, who is a student. Over the course of the next several years, May grows up and she and Charlie fall in love. But when May’s father is diagnosed with cancer, Charlie abruptly breaks things off. Ten years later, Charlie is still teaching at Abbott with May and his younger half-brother, Nicky. Charlie tries to bring Nicky and May together, but is unprepared for the consequences that follow. Then Charlie and Nicky’s widowed mother arrives at the school for Christmas. She winds up in the hospital, setting the stage for a series of events that will throw the past into clear relief. LeCraw has fashioned a contemporary novel that feels positively Victorian with its overuse of coincidence and deathbed confessions. The story takes place over the course of two decades, but Charlie, who narrates, never seems to age mentally, making it difficult for readers to get a fix on where they are in the story. Add a school scandal to the mix and this overstuffed, awkwardly plotted novel completely strains belief. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/22/2014
Release date: 02/17/2015
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-385-66795-1
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-385-66796-8
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-307-47445-2
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