Published July 21, 2020
About Brother’s Keeper
North Korea. December, 1950.
Twelve-year-old Sora and her family live under an iron set of rules: No travel without a permit. No criticism of the government. No absences from Communist meetings. Wear red. Hang pictures of the Great Leader. Don’t trust your neighbors. Don’t speak your mind. You are being watched.
But war is coming, war between North and South Korea, between the Soviets and the Americans. War causes chaos–and war is the perfect time to escape. The plan is simple: Sora and her family will walk hundreds of miles to the South Korean city of Busan from their tiny mountain village. They just need to avoid napalm, frostbite, border guards, and enemy soldiers.
But they can’t. And when an incendiary bombing changes everything, Sora and her little brother Young will have to get to Busan on their own. Can a twelve-year-old girl and her eight-year-old brother survive three hundred miles of war zone in winter?
As I started to read BROTHER’S KEEPER, I worried about how dark it would be. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. And I won’t lie, some scenes were hard because they were so heartbreaking.
What I loved, though, was Sora’s resourcefulness and her will to survive. I loved her love for books and stories and the hope she continually kindled inside of her that she would see her family again.
BROTHER’S KEEPER doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of war. But through the struggles and bitter coldness of winter, the love between Sora and her brother and their hope for the future shine so brightly. I’m so glad I read this book.
If you like raw, gripping historical novels by Ruta Sepetys (though those are aimed at a slightly older audience) or EVERY FALLING STAR by Sunju Lee and Elizabeth McClelland, please check out BROTHER’S KEEPER.
Recommended for Ages 10 to 14.
All named characters are North or South Korean.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Sora and her family are Christians. They’ve been forbidden to practice their faith but have a Bible hidden in their home.
Some descriptions of civilians, including children being shot or bombed. One very brief scene shows domestic violence. In one scene, two children fall through the ice into a freezing river and die.
Some mentions of adults drinking alcohol.
Note: I received a free copy of BROTHER’S KEEPER in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support running this blog.