Tag Archives: Batten disease

Review: Behind These Hands by Linda Vigen Phillips

Behind These Hands by Linda Vigen PhillipsBehind These Hands
Linda Vigen Phillips
Light Messages
Published on July 7, 2018

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About Behind These Hands
Fourteen-year-old Claire Fairchild has always known music would be her life. She enters a prestigious contest pitted against Juan, a close childhood friend. It doesn’t help that her thoughts about him have turned romantic. But nothing compares to the devastating news that both younger brothers have Batten disease.

While attending a conference about this rare neurodegenerative disorder, Claire receives word that she has won the contest. Her musical goals no longer seem relevant. She can’t reconcile the joy and prestige that a classical music career would bring to her life while her brothers are succumbing to an early and ugly death.

When Claire accompanies a friend on a school newspaper assignment, she meets a centenarian with a unique musical past and only one regret in life. Claire knows something in her life has to change before she, too, has regrets. With newfound courage and determination, she finds a new way to express herself musically while celebrating the lives of her dying brothers.

My Review
I always forget how much I love a novel in verse. There’s something truly amazing about finding a way to tell an entire story saturated with emotions in so few words. Behind These Hands took me to tears so many times, both with its tragedy and its beauty.

The descriptions of Claire playing the piano and composing her piece for the contest were so vivid I felt like I heard the music. Her heartache watching her brothers and knowing what their future holds hit me hard every time. The characters, especially Claire and her two best friends, felt real and full in every scene.

I didn’t expect to be as blown away by this book as I am. I want to read it a second time. I want to tell so many people about it. I love that it’s a fantastic story but also that it raises awareness of a disorder that affects real kids.

If you liked Solo by Kwame Alexander, the family issues and Claire’s courage may remind you of that story. If you’re a fan of novels in verse or moving contemporary fiction, definitely check Behind These Hands out!Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Cultural Elements
Claire is white. Her best friend Juan is Cuban.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used a few times. At one point Claire responds to two bullies with two middle fingers.

Romance/Sexual Content
Brief kissing between a boy and girl.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.