Why did I love this book?
Two African American brothers spend their summer in rural Virginia while their parents navigate a rough patch in their marriage. Genie, 11, and Ernie, 13, get to know their blind grandfather who has a special room filled with plants and songbirds. I identified with Genie, a worrier who likes to pose questions in his notebook. As the two brothers respond differently to their grandfather’s announcement that a brave man learns to shoot a gun at 14, Reynolds is also asking readers to consider what it means to be brave and how we should define family. I loved the themes and vivid setting of the book. As someone who visited a grandparent in a small, rural town each summer, I identified with the boys’ sense that they have travelled not just a state but a whole world away from home.