My Brother Simple by Marie-Aude Murail

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My Brother Simple by Marie-Aude Murail

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lovely tale of a boy with learning difficulties who brings profound changes to the lives of four Parisian student flatsharers and his own brother. It's utterly joyous and life-affirming.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408814714

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Kleber is just starting his second year of sixth form in Paris and is looking for a flatshare. For most boys, this would be an exciting time, full of possibilities. But for Kleber, it's problematic. He comes as a twosome with Simple, his older brother. Simple has learning difficulties and the boys' father, just remarried, had packed him off to a residential centre. Simple hated it there and Kleber suspected the staff of neglect. Despite being just seventeen, he's decided to take his brother on.

But it's not easy finding a flatshare prepared to put with Simple, whose games create chaos and who, understandably, puts a bit of a dampener on nascent adolescent independence. And that's without considering Mister Babbit, the stuffed toy with a mind of his own, the vevolver (don't worry, it's not a real one), or the knife (don't ask).

But there's something people don't know about Simple. He might be simple, but he's not an i-di-ot...

I cannot imagine a single reader who would not be seduced by Simple and his alter ego, Mister Babbit. He explodes into the lives of the flatsharers and makes them see many things in completely different ways. Simple's blunt but honest ways unnerve them at first, even make them resentful. Who wants a simpleton to point out that they're overweight? That they've behaved badly? But gradually, Simple's what-you-see-is-what-you-get personality begins to open their hearts. They see him in a different light and they see themselves in a different light too. Even older brother Kleber - the seventeen-year-old who stood up to a neglectful father and assumed care of this lovable but difficult adult-child - has a lesson to learn from Simple. Who'd have thought it would be Simple who knew which girl would be best to love?

My Brother Simple is utterly joyous and life-affirming. It's not really so much about how we should deal with people with learning difficulties. It's much more about how we should deal with ourselves and spend time thinking about what we can offer to others. Simple illustrates this: a boy with apparently little to offer, who will never be important or clever or rich, becomes valued and loved simply because he is loveable. Zahra, one of the girls Kleber fancies, understands this instinctively. Everyone else needs to learn it. And they're much the happier when they do.

Lovely story and it's beautifully done with some laugh-out-loud dialogue. Don't miss it.

If you'd like to read more French young adult fiction, then we can heartily recommend No and Me by Delphine de Vigan, a beautiful story all about home - how someone who lives in a house with their family can be just as homeless as someone on the streets.

Buy My Brother Simple by Marie-Aude Murail at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Brother Simple by Marie-Aude Murail at

Buy My Brother Simple by Marie-Aude Murail at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Brother Simple by Marie-Aude Murail at


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