A teen revives the legacy of his lost brother in this compelling novel from the author of Inexcusable, a National Book Award finalist.
When Eric’s brother Duane dies, his world breaks in two. Duane was his best friend—possibly his only friend. And Eric isn’t sure how to live in a world without Duane in it. Desperate to find a piece of his brother to hold on to, Eric decides to meet some of the people who received Duane’s organs.
He expects to meet perfect strangers. Instead he encounters people who become more than friends and almost like family—people who begin to help Eric put the pieces of his life back together for good.
From internationally acclaimed author Chris Lynch comes a gripping and enduring exploration of loss and recovery—and a long-awaited sequel to the celebrated Iceman.
My brother is a philosopher. I know this because he’s told me, countless times. More than just a philosopher, even.
“Philoso-raptor,” he calls himself. “Swift of mind, rapaciously inquisitive.” On his twentieth birthday this year he alerted me to the fact that “at approximately two dumps a day, more than seven hundred a year, times twenty years, that puts me over the fourteen-thousand mark for squatting, most of it on the toilet. That, my man, is a lot of contemplation.”
That’s my brother.
He’s always telling me to be philosophical, to take things philosophically. I’ve never entirely wrapped my mind around what that means, but it seems right now is as good a time as there ever will be to figure that out.
There’s a moss-green river that cuts in half just in time to bypass the hospital on both sides. Sometimes it doesn’t appear green, but even at those times it smells green. Doesn’t matter, though. People are always on the banks, walking up and down, sitting in the park that belongs half to the hospital, half to the river. Because of the sound. It’s millions of splashy voices all going at once, and this river is never, ever silent.
I’m standing with my back to the voices and my front to the gleam of the new hospital wing rising up, eight stories of yellow brick and glass against the deep purple clouded sky. I think I’ve picked out the window on the second floor, in the room where my brother is not going to die. All the voices behind me say that Duane’s not going to die.
Is it being philosophical to believe the voices? I suppose it could be.
Is it being philosophical to be picking up golf-ball-size rocks and whipping them one after another at that window like a spoiled and angry and petulant kid?
Of course it isn’t. I’m sorry, Duane. I’m sorry, man. You’re not even gone and already I’m letting you down.
Chris Lynch is the Printz Honor Award–winning author of several highly acclaimed young adult novels, including Printz Honor Book Freewill, Iceman, Gypsy Davy, and Shadow Boxer—all ALA Best Books for Young Adults—as well as Killing Time in Crystal City, Little Blue Lies, Pieces, Kill Switch, Angry Young Man, and Inexcusable, which was a National Book Award finalist and the recipient of six starred reviews. He holds an MA from the writing program at Emerson College. He teaches in the Creative Writing MFA program at Lesley University. He lives in Boston and in Scotland.
* "Each character springs fully formed off the page, and Lynch’s irreverent, inventive dialogue crackles, turning what could have easily been a maudlin soap opera into a sharply observed story of real human connection. Readers will be pleasantly reminded of the snarky stylings of John Green and Ned Vizzini. Exceptional."
– Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Lynch paints a cast of indelible characters, even secondary players, with a deft, sensitive hand. And despite the specificity of Eric’s circumstances, his complicated, shifting emotions are immediately resonant. Though the complex family dynamic (and strange affinity for death) explored in Iceman adds nuance to the proceedings here, this novel stands on its own, rewarding new readers with a tender exploration of just what it means to be whole."
"Poignantly credible...Lynch is the great laureate of American guyhood, and he writes with fierce compassion about a kid who relishes the angry rush of punching men but abhors the thought of a woman he cares for being abused. While the complexity of the situation adds an interesting dimension, at its core this is a story of loss and identity, of a young man finding out who he is through the legacy of the brother who taught him who he was."
"Using succinct prose, Lynch creates a smart, raw story about redefining oneself after loss."
– Publishers Weekly
* "[A] powerfully emotional novel of grief and loss...a novel that for the first time brings all of Lynch’s many talents together in one place."
– VOYA, starred review
* "Lynch is known for his gritty novels with flawed protagonists. He does not disappoint here, once again giving readers characters with emotional and psychological complexity. A long time coming, this sequel is a sophisticated, extended look at a teen’s maturation and growth through a series of dynamic life changes."
– School Library Journal, starred review
"Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, this book is a touching tour through the experience of losing and finding different kinds of love."