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THE CASE AGAINST MY BROTHER by Libby Sternberg


By Theresa de Valence - Posted on 06 May 2007

Set a few years after World War I, THE CASE AGAINST MY BROTHER concerns two poor orphaned boys who travel to Portland, Oregon to stay with their Uncle Pete. Fifteen year old Carl, our first person protagonist, has a clear strong voice, though his attitude vascillates between the comfortable beliefs of his childhood and what he is coming to see as his obligations of manhood. Carl was once protected by the presence of his elder brother Adam, but Adam is now accused of a crime and sees flight as his only recourse. Carl is in a race against time to uncover the truth and prove that Adam is a victim of widespread religious and ethnic bigotry.

Carl is a good hero. He is a smart, loyal younger brother. Being poor, he finds ways to help Uncle Pete with the bills. An enterprising young man, Carl gains a paper route and assists the maintenance man at a local Catholic school. The more he sees the town ignore his brother Adam’s plight, the more he pledges his detective abilities. And clever detection he does! The story is gripping and absorbing. There are a few places where Carl’s voice is a bit too adult and the facts contrived to suit a convoluted reasoning, but on the whole it is an engaging story.

Presumed to be an aftermath of World War I, Oregon brought an anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant referendum to the polls in 1922. The author cites her extensive research sources, the accuracy of material quoted in the story, and delineates clearly how her story differs from the researched facts.

And an interesting story it is.