The Half Brother by Holly LecrawThe Half Brother by Holly Lecraw

The Half Brother

byHolly Lecraw

Paperback | February 17, 2015

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Evocative of Dead Poets Society and The Starboard Sea, Holly LeCraw's The Half Brother is the story of secrets and betrayals between two brothers set amid the ivy-covered walls of an elite New England boarding school.
     When Charlie Garrett arrives as a young teacher at the Abbott School, he finds a world steeped in privilege and tradition. The school's green quads are lined by gothic stone halls, students dart across campus in blazers and bright plaid skirts. Fresh out of college and barely older than the students he teaches, Charlie longs to find his place in the rarefied world of Abbottsford. He gets to know the school chaplain, Preston Bankhead, and is drawn to Preston's beautiful young daughter, May, a student at the school.
     Then, Charlie's younger half brother, Nick, arrives on campus. Nick is, quite literally, the golden child, with sandy blond hair and a dazzling smile. Teachers welcome him warmly; students stay late to talk after class; and May Bankhead proves susceptible to his magnetic power. As Charlie sees the unmistakable connection between his first love and his half brother, he struggles with emotions far more complicated than mere jealousy. A terrible secret threatens to surface, and Charlie's peaceful campus life is in jeopardy.
    A complex, sexy, page-turning novel, LeCraw's latest asks how much we will sacrifice to protect those we love and how far we will go to keep the past safely buried.
Holly LeCraw is the author of The Swimming Pool. Her work has appeared in The Millions, Post Road, various anthologies, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A native of Atlanta, she now lives outside Boston with her family. Visit Holly at
Title:The Half BrotherFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9.18 × 6.26 × 0.88 inPublished:February 17, 2015Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385667957

ISBN - 13:9780385667951

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Masterful This masterful novel by Holly Le Craw is set at a fictitious private school (Abbott) in the fictitious town of Abbotsford, situated in hilly idyllic north central Massachusetts, near the Vermont border. It is written in the first person from the perspective of its main protagonist, Charlie Garrett, a teacher originally from Georgia, by way of Harvard, who came, liked what he saw, and stayed. Charlie is not obsessively self-absorbed like so many heroes in first person novels, although he understands himself and has an appreciation for the things that add value to his life. He loves his bucolically situated older home and property a few miles outside of town as well as his profession, his students, and literature generally, especially poetry. He is also altruistic, empathetic, and honourable to a fault; a dutiful son, half brother, and friend, who is also very dedicated to and respected by his students. He even goes so far as to make himself appear the villain when his relationship with May Bankhead becomes untenable. Perhaps it is this altruism that prompts him to successfully forge a relationship between May and his half brother Nick (the two people in life he loves most) when all three are united as members of Abbott's faculty. Charlie also feels compelled to try and understand others, albeit with mixed success, which may explain why other characters do not seem as three-dimensional. More importantly, his erroneous impressions of others makes them appear more malleable and, by extension, makes the plot more amenable to the inevitable twists and turns that keep readers of this novel riveted. THE HALF BROTHER has three divisions named after the most important people in Charlie's life. May Bankhead, the daughter of the school's chaplain and love of Charlie's life, is a caregiver and nurturer who joins Charlie on Abbott's faculty years after their relationship ends. Nick Satterthwaite, Charlie's much younger half brother and the family's pride and joy, is a math whiz and horrific speller, who did relief work and taught in Haiti, then more relief work in Afghanistan, before joining Charlie on Abbott's faculty at the same time as May. Readers are continuously told how brilliant and charismatic Nick is while astutely reading between the lines and concluding that he is less than the sum of his parts. Indeed, it is inevitably Charlie who is the go-to guy, a fact hammered home when an agitated student tells Charlie in no uncertain terms that he, Charlie, is the better man. Finally, Anita, Charlie and Nick's mother, is a strong willed and courageous woman who willingly pays the price. Raised by her maternal grandparents in rural Georgia, she works her way through school and becomes a nurse, all the while raising Charlie on her own. Her ascent into the southern aristocracy is assured when she marries the alcoholic, but oh so kind, Hugh Satterthwaite. In summing up, this is the classic romance novel where boy and girl meet, fall in love, then break up when circumstances intervene. Readers spend the rest of the novel wondering if circumstances can somehow reverse themselves so as to enable them to reunite and live happily ever after. This novel is also characterized by complicated family histories and interconnected characters with much to hide. Le Craw does a great job with plot twists and turns and with the development of her central character, Charlie Garrett. Her use of flashbacks enhance our understanding of who the characters are and why they do what they do. In short, this work is highly recommended and just as outstanding as Le Craw's earlier work, THE SWIMMING POOL.
Date published: 2015-11-16

Editorial Reviews

"The Half Brother is a beautifully written novel. . . . a thoughtful meditation on family and mortality, with sympathetic characters and a well-drawn setting that will be recognizable to many." ―The Boston Globe“The Half Brother is escapism at its best―gemmed here and there with truly powerful writing, it’s decadent as cake, and just as much fun to consume.” ―Winnipeg Free Press“[An] engrossing study of characters and relationships.” —Kirkus Reviews"When Harvard graduate Charlie Garrett starts teaching at Abbott, an Episcopal boarding school in Massachusetts, the chair of the English department tells the young teacher that his students ‘all still believe in truth.’ LeCraw’s gorgeous sentences dramatize a campus where literature stirs young hearts and minds . . . LeCraw never eases the emotional tension. . . One of the finest school-set novels in recent memory.” — The Millions"With profound insights and through elegant, understated prose, LeCraw tells an intricate tale of loyalty and betrayal, secrets and truths, taking readers on a dreamlike journey into the heart of passion and the soul of family. In this exotic, emotive, and evocatively delicate novel, LeCraw brings southern gothic to staid New England in a tale reminiscent of books by Pat Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddons, Anne Tyler, and Donna Tartt."–Carol Haggas, Booklist (starred)“This second novel by transplanted Southerner LeCraw is written in the analytic but un-self-pitying voice of Charlie, with an air of Greek tragedy or Southern gothic that should appeal to readers who liked Amber Dermot’s The Starboard Sea . . . Fans of boarding school novels will snap up this story of lost loves, family secrets, and life at a New England prep school from behind the teacher’s desk.” –Laurie Cavanaugh, Library Journal“Irresistible . . . Holly LeCraw has created an appealing setting in the Abbott School, a campus at the top of a ridge in north Massachusetts where azaleas and cherry blossoms surround the stone and clapboard buildings, and the grass almost shimmers with mist . . . It is a pleasure to get lost in LeCraw’s prose, which is both graceful and filled with smart observations . . . By the end, we’re invested.” –BookPage “With wisdom and emotional generosity, LeCraw takes us through a year that transforms both the teachers and students of Abbott forever. Page-turning, lyrical, and ambitious, The Half Brother is a powerful examination of family, loyalty, and love.” –Bookriot