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WHEN I WAS OLDER by Garret Freymann-Weyr

WHEN I WAS OLDER

By Garret Freymann-Weyr

Age Range: 10 - 15

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-618-05545-2
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

In this exceptional novel about the grief process, Sophie comes through as a unique but very real character. She begins with the immediate revelation that her brother, Erhart, died three years earlier of leukemia and her father ousted from the house for infidelity. Highly intelligent, with a dry wit and aspirations of going to medical school, Sophie gets anxious around other people. She slowly begins to allow herself to have spontaneous feelings and not just her carefully monitored “on-purpose memories.” The impetus for this change is her mother’s boyfriend’s son, Francis. Francis is a kind, worldly guy who has also suffered a loss: his mother has died. Sophie is first drawn to him by the tiny tear tattoo on his face, the outward expression of his grief. Through hours of conversation over many weeks they become increasingly good friends. Sophie, though, has a rule against dating, as she doesn’t want to get sidetracked from her educational goals. When the kiss finally comes, Sophie and Francis have built a deep, respectful friendship. Sophie is also able to make some emotional reparations with her father and finally visit the gravesite of her brother. The recurring theme throughout is that of time and its relation to forgiveness, memories, and growth. Freymann-Weyr has crafted a smartly written story that honors both intellect and love while remaining blessedly free of cliché or sugar-coating. (Fiction. 10-15)