Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Favorites: The Secret Journal of Brett Colton by Kay Lynn Mangum

THE SECRET JOURNAL OF BRETT COLTON
by Kay Lynn Mangum
Deseret Book, 2005
ISBN: 1-59038-399-0
YA LDS Fiction
Reviewed from personal copy.

Kathy Colton can t stand her brother, Brett. Her family talks as if he were perfect! All Kathy knows for sure is that Brett is dead. He died of leukemia when he was sixteen and she was only two. But when Kathy turns sixteen, she discovers her brother s hidden journal - a journal written especially for her - and learns about the brother she never knew. At the same time, Kathy is mortified by an assignment to tutor the popular high school quarterback Jason West, a football jock who, even worse, is a Mormon. Author Kay Lynn Mangum brilliantly weaves the dual stories of a dying brother and a coming-of-age sister who learn the importance of loving our family and our friends and nurturing our faith.

Today I thought I would share one of my all time favorite books.  While the main character is a teenager, there is much here to be enjoyed by adults as well. The character development is superb, one of the best I've ever read and I've read many. As I've gotten older, character development has become of prime importance in how much I really love a book.  I truly fell in love with the characters in this one, they feel so real to me. Kathy starts out as a bit of a brat resenting her family's adoration of a brother she doesn't remember. That resentment carries over to Jason West the football star she ends up tutoring.  But once she receives her brother's journal and she starts to get to know her dead brother, she starts to change and so does her relationship with Jason.  

I admit I shed tears every time I read this one. The tender relationship that existed between Kathy as a baby and her dying brother is so heartrendingly sweet.  The journal entries of Brett read in such a genuine way as he faces not only the normal problems of a high school athlete but the fact that he is dying. The relationships between Kathy and her family members and friends grow and change as well. Belief in God and life and death play a big role in this story as Brett faces his own mortality and questions about life after death. The author does a beautiful job of integrating faith and religion into a tender story of love and loss and what faith in God really means.

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