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Eleven-year-old Genie and his older brother Ernie are sent from their Brooklyn home to stay with their grandparents in rural Virginia while their parents take a trip to resolve their marital problems.

Genie has a notebook in which he writes his questions about life—he wants to be a “questionnaire” when he grows up—so he can check for answers on the Internet. But he discovers that many of his questions can’t be answered by Google.

Living with his grandparents, Genie’s unanswered questions pile up. There’s so much he doesn’t understand about Grandpop and his Uncle Wood, and he can’t figure out why his dad can’t get along with Grandpop. All the while, Genie hopes that his parents will resolve their differences. Gradually, Genie’s questions are answered by his grandparents and Ernie, and Genie begins to understand the complexity of adults’ heartaches and pains.

In this creative, funny, and yet serious juvenile novel, author Jason Reynolds tackles difficult realities—post traumatic stress disorder experienced by war veterans, alcoholism, living with a disability, racism, and marital conflict—and explores how fears and the choice to be brave are a part of every person’s life.

As Brave as You is designated for children 10 and up, but is better suited for children 13 and up with adult input because it contains some profanity and deals with several sensitive issues. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

About the Author

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer and a member of Covenant CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario.