cover image Kinda Like Brothers

Kinda Like Brothers

Coe Booth. . Scholastic Press, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-545-22496-3

In her first novel for middle-grade readers, Booth (Bronxwood) introduces an African-American family in Newark who open their home to foster children. By the time Kevon, 12, and his two-year-old sister, Treasure, arrive in the middle of the night, 11-year-old Jarrett has had enough of his mother's charity. Jarrett is forced to share a room with Kevon, who acts distant and ungrateful, and he's also annoyed to be attending summer school, with the threat of having to repeat the sixth grade. Even his usual joys%E2%80%94crushing on his down-to-earth friend Caprice, taking step class at a neighborhood center, and making horror movie trailers with his best friend%E2%80%94are overshadowed by Kevon's presence. Jarrett snoops into Kevon's past in hopes of getting rid of him, but, predictably, the truth he uncovers evokes sympathy. Booth offers candid insight into racism, poverty, and the foster care system without becoming heavy-handed; she also sensitively depicts a character's coming-out moment. Jarrett's evolution from a position of resistance to an acceptance of circumstances beyond his control is believably subtle. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Aug.)