In this unvarnished read, a high schooler tries to distance himself from his profoundly autistic younger brother until he hooks up with a good woman who snaps him out of it.
Ian’s hopes of keeping his family situation secret at his new school and just being known for his football talent vanish when his brother Davey is assigned to a special needs class on the same campus. Despite part-time help from an aide who can wrestle him to the floor at need, Davey’s frequent, wildly violent meltdowns have left Ian and his divorced mother struggling to have any social lives—which is why Ian is desperate to keep up appearances in the face of a developing relationship with a schoolmate, Jessica. Disturbingly, Ian bottles up his feelings until he lets them out by beating his brother. Jessica’s insistence that she really does care about him and no, Davey’s not a dealbreaker leads to a cathartic confession and an easy public acceptance of his sibling. Jacobs brings far more expertise about autism and living with an autistic child than about football (“Ian tore down the field and made a touchdown”) to this rough-hewn effort.
It’s a timely topic with a pat resolution, framed for reluctant readers in choppy prose and short chapters, but it’s not likely to break out of its hi-lo niche. (Fiction. 12 & up)