By: Rebecca Rupp
Location: FIC RUP
Genre: Coming of age- war, death and love
When Daniel’s brother Eli is killed at war, Daniel considers the history of unusual fatalities to determine what makes a death — or a life — matter.
I had a good friend die- I was 14 , she was 15. Her name was Sonia. She fell off a horse on a road in Canterbury on her way to a hockey game.
She was so talented, gifted, an athlete, an artist, a musician, a great hockey player and a good friend. She was from a loving large family who deeply mourned her death.
I could never figure out at the age of 14 why she had to die.
Maybe I needed this book- then!
Danny is one of those characters whose voice just seems so authentic. When his older brother Eli dies in Iraq Danny’s family flounders with their grief. His mother is chronically depressed, his father is angry and their family has fallen apart. Set over one long summer holiday period Danny makes some new friends in Isabelle, the quirky visitor from New York and Walter, the genius social misfit who is the target of the school’s bullies. Their friendship helps Danny make sense of his feelings of anger and grief. Danny creates a Book of the Dead in which he compiles facts about the deaths of famous people. Each chapter of this novel deals with the death of a person that Danny then relates to an aspect of his own life. Although the premise sounds quite heavy, and it is deeply moving and philosophical, this is also a very funny story. Danny has a very humorous and straight-forward voice that offers a light touch in some very dark moments. Seeing the world through Danny’s eyes, particularly through his memories of Eli, is heart-warming, poignant and yet also uplifting. In this coming of age story Danny learns that sometimes the only way to move forward is to let go of the past.