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by Julie Johnston

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-316-46988-2

 Keely, 12, and her brother Patrick, 13, are rivals given to challenging, often dangerous, dares but also ``Siamese twins, joined at the mind.'' When polio strikes (it's 1946) and the active boy is left not only without movement but deeply despondent, Keely also finds her world profoundly altered. Her sympathy for Patrick is believably tempered with impatience with his negativism and her own discomfort with the disruption of their household. Warmhearted nurse Peggy's good sense is a first step on the way to partial recovery, and Keely first sparks Patrick's interest with a far-fetched plan to find Peggy's fiancÇ, missing and presumed dead in WW II. But it's Keely's imagination, guile, and persistence--in the face of Patrick's continuing opposition--that lead to finding new, understanding friends and getting him into a wheelchair and out of the house. Still, Patrick's real healing begins only after he attempts suicide, realizes how glad he is that he failed, and begins to make the physical and emotional efforts needed for a productive life. It's not easy, nor simplistically presented: Patrick's bitter despair is as graphically evoked as feisty Keely's more humorous pratfalls and adolescent angst. Winner of Canada's Governor General's Award: a fine first novel with an intense, beautifully developed sibling relationship. (Fiction. 10-14)