My Brother's Name

Laura Krughoff. Scarletta (PGW, dist.) $14.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-0-9830219-4-0
Jane Fields grows up idolizing her brother John, the talented, beautiful older sibling. When John has a psychotic break at college and comes home a deeply troubled young man, Jane is shattered. Her brother stabilizes briefly and then disintegrates again, and the family starts running out of options. John suggests to Jane that the two of them move away from the suburbs to the city, so he can have "time to breathe." But John is too unstable to even drive a car, or hold down a job, and so the siblings decide that Jane will assume John's identity—to "hold his place…so that one day he [can] get well and become that guy again." The siblings look alike, and Jane (in boy's clothes) starts working at a music store, while the real John roams their apartment "mad and unmedicated" frequently "accusing [Jane] of treason." Jane soon becomes interlaced with her brother's identity. Krughoff handles John's character skillfully; his madness is never fetishized or overdrawn, even as he becomes more and more sinister, and the boundaries between the siblings become harder to discern. The passages dealing with Jane's parents, as they struggle with the surreal defection of both their children, are drawn with gravity and loveliness. While at times the plot moves a little predictably towards disaster, the book remains a unique and intricately aligned debut. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/14/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
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