This is the first book for young readers Marilyn Levinson has written, presenting the story in the third person of Adam Krasner, a sixth grade boy. There are several black and white illustrations showing the emotions felt by the characters in And Donít Bring Jeremy by Diane De Goat, with a eye for detail.
The Krasners moved a few months ago to the town of Glen Haven, an hour drive from where they previously lived. Although it is not mentioned why this move took place, I assumed it was related to the fatherís employment. Adamís older brother is Jeremy, in the seventh grade and attending the junior high school. Jeremy is neurologically impaired and needs tutors in the home plus takes special classes in school. After playing baseball at the neighborhood field Adam caught the attention of a seventh grader named Eddie Gordon. Adam is flattered that someone wants to be friends with him since his brotherís outbursts usually cause others to bypass him.
Mr. Gordon is the coach for the Little League team where Adam and Eddie are both pitchers. Adamís Mother encourages him to have his brother involved in the same things, so Jeremy ends up on the Little League team, even though he hates it, but his Mother wants him to be around his peers. Eddie has been picking on Jeremy since they moved into town, but Adam is not really aware of this due to being at different schools, so he ignores his brotherís constant complaining of how Eddie calls him a retard on the bus and looks at him with mean eyes.
After a day of practice Eddie takes Adam aside and says that the next day some of the guys are heading to a place for pizza. Adam is happy to be included and wonders if he should ask if Jeremy can come as well, knowing full well his Mother will push him in that direction. Eddie than mentions to Adam "And Donít Bring Jeremy". At the dinner table Adam tells his parents what he will be doing tomorrow before the game and of course true to form his Mother encourages bringing Jeremy along as well since he is on the team. Adam does not want to come out and say that he was specifically told And Donít Bring Jeremy so avoids pursuing the conversation with his Mother.
Throughout And Donít Bring Jeremy are many conversations with Adam, Jeremy and their parents at the kitchen table. It is quite funny to read how the author was able to convey just what a sixth and seventh grader feel and how they describe certain aspects of their parents in detailed observations. When Adam remarks how when his Mother makes a certain noise with her nose when she is exasperated I chuckled and tried to imagine such a noise! It is clear that his Mother has the last word all the time, but on the other hand she tends to push Jeremy off onto Adam and that seems unreasonable at times. I felt as a parent there was a lack of parental involvement on her part as she was always busy fixing and decorating the new house.
Here is a sample of the amusing kitchen banter found on the pages of And Donít Bring Jeremy:
" But Iím on the team." He started to whine. ďThey should have invited me, too."
Thank God Dad took over. "Look, Jeremy, weíve been through this before. We go someplace only when weíve been invited to go. You know that.Ē
Jeremy sniffed and ate his chicken. I took a bite of mine. No one said a word.
ďAdam, my mother said two minutes later, ďyouíre not eating your squash.Ē
I knew sheíd say something. Anything. Mom couldnít stand silence at the dinner table Ė thought it was un-natural."
Adam is clearly embarrassed with Jeremy being on the same team, "Why did Mom have to put us both on the same team? Didnít she ever stop and think about the effect having a brother like Jeremy had on me?" Unfortunately this is not really explored in the book, but you can feel the sadness and pressure from Adam when reading And Donít Bring Jeremy. There are a few occasions where Adam has to decide whether to believe his brother or Eddie when things get out of hand in school and the wrong person may get in trouble.
Jeremy takes pride in planting a garden until Eddie deliberately ruins it when over playing ball in the backyard with Adam. As a result Jeremy rips up the baseball card collection that Adam cherishes. Jeremy is huge Beatles fan so whenever arguments arise within the family, he stomps off to his room leaving the house listening to the blaring of the Beatles. "Jeremy always slammed his door when he was mad."
And Donít Bring Jeremy is a quick and easy read for an Adult and geared to those who are between the ages of nine and twelve, especially anyone in the sixth and/or seventh grades. This would help those that have a child that is different in preparing for what is ahead once the child is at this age or grade level. The author has really captured the feelings of Adam and what he goes through on a daily basis because his brother is different.
I was very pleased to read And Donít Bring Jeremy, highly recommending this for anyone who has a child in this age range to teach about compassion and understanding of those who are challenged and different. I loved the way the boys transformed through the pages and really got a sense of being there with them in the town of Glen Haven. This would make a wonderful summer read to introduce a young reader to the trials and tribulations of living with a sibling that has a disability.
Originally published on Epinions
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