The Death and Life of Benny Brooks: Sort of a Memoir

Little, Brown/Christy Ottaviano. Oct. 2023. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316333122.
Gr 4-7–A fictionalized coming-of-age story of Long during the 1970s. Benny’s parents are going through a divorce, and his father is dying of lung cancer. Benny is struggling at school and is failing in his ability to fall asleep and control his anger. Luckily, he has a best friend who supports him, a teacher who is helping him with fifth grade, and a therapist helping him learn how to navigate the end of his father’s life and socializing with his friends. The book is prose interspersed with cartoony black-and-white line drawings dramatizing the events in Benny’s life, such as his brother’s bullying during dinner time, father’s failing health, and mother’s moving into her new home. The people illustrated look mostly white, reflecting the community that Benny Brooks lives in. The book’s tactful handling of mental health and therapy is balanced, respectful, and representative of the actual process; blame is not placed on the child, but a framework is given that places Benny’s mental health issues at the nexus of multiple traumatic life events compounding one another.
VERDICT Recommended purchase for libraries seeking nuanced depictions of divorce, death in the family, and trauma.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing