Oh Brother, Skip This One

Brother by David Chariandy

This book received a lot of attention when it came out. It won awards and was part of the One Book One London program. I didn’t get around to reading it during that city-wide blitz but after seeing a few of my friends recommending it online, I thought I’d give it a try.

It was great to see the story set in some familiar areas. Anyone who lives in or around Toronto will definitely recognize some of the locales. The characters visit the Canadian National Exhibition at one point and they even refer to it as “The Ex.” That was nice to see.

Despite the local feel to the book, there isn’t much else I can rave about. In fact quite the opposite. I didn’t find the characters enchanting and the story dragged.

We find out early on that the title character passed away and that his death devastated the family. We don’t know how or why until near the end of the book. I understand what the author was trying to do and the point he wanted to make, but it just didn’t work for me. It didn’t make much sense either.

The story jumps around in time and never gains traction. It feels like the characters or the author are holding important details back,. Sometimes this kind of storytelling pays off with a brilliant ending. This one is just depressing. I’d say, skip it and find a better story that covers the same themes of racism, and class. I’d recommend A Good Neighborhood by Anne Fowler instead.

My List of 2021 Reads – my reading log with links to dozen of my reviews