After Eli

by Rebecca Rupp

Danny’s much older brother Eli died in the Iraq War when Danny was younger.... read more

Danny’s much older brother Eli died in the Iraq War when Danny was younger. Now fourteen, Danny feels invisible at home, where his mom is shut down and his dad’s full of anger, but his “Book of the Dead”—a collection of stories from across centuries about how various people died—is the only outward sign that he’s still affected by what happened. Isabelle is a girl from New York City spending the summer in Danny’s small town with her family. Danny is entranced by her free spirit and alarmed by her younger siblings, twins Journey and Jasper (nine-year-old nihilists and totally entertaining). If a summer spent falling in love with an unattainable girl proves to be a maturing experience, an even greater one is a summer spent getting to know Walter, the ultimate nerdy outsider at Danny’s school. Ridiculed by other kids, Walter is smart and kind, and weird in a way that Danny comes to admire. Isabelle, Danny, and Walter discuss and do things Danny would never do with his other, more popular, friends. Danny is also working on an organic farm run by his brother’s best friend. His dad doesn’t approve, but Danny loves it. Rebecca Rupp’s story of friendship—fleeting, real, and learning to tell the difference—and a family still shell-shocked from grief is full of moments big and small that strike a perfect chord. Her narrative is insightful, moving, and funny, and through it all, Danny’s memories create a wonderful portrait of Eli, the irreverent brother who adored him. (Ages 11–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013

show less