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Cover image for Kinda like brothers
Kinda like brothers
Other title(s):
Kind of like brothers


First edition.
New York : Scholastic Press, 2014.
Physical Description:
248 pages ; 22 cm
When his mother takes in a twelve-year-old foster boy, Jarrett is forced to share his room and his friends with the new boy.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader 4.3.

Reading Counts! 3.8.

Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.3 8.0 168152.
Added Corporate Author:


Call Number

On Order



Acclaimed YA novelist Coe Booth makes her middle-grade debut.

Jarrett is used to his mom taking in foster kids. But they're all - every single one of them - infants or babies, and they never stay for long. Not until Kevon and his sister come to stay. The sister is fine; she's just a baby. But Kevon is Jarrett's age, and that is NOT okay with Jarrett. He wants Kevon out of his house as soon as possible. But the more he tries to get rid of Kevon, the more he becomes enmeshed in Kevon's life and his history - which leads, ultimately, to some unexpected understanding.

Author Notes

COE BOOTH is a graduate of The New School's Writing for Children MFA program, and a winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction. She is the author of Tyrell and Kendra , and was born and still lives in the Bronx.

Reviews 6

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Life is a very complicated affair if you happen to be 11-year-old Jarrett of Newark, New Jersey. He is asthmatic and about to fail summer school. His mother takes in almost any foster child, including kids with special needs. The last straw is the arrival of two siblings, the developmentally challenged toddler, Treasure, and her tall, athletic 12-year-old brother, Kevon, who will be sharing Jarrett's room. Jarrett has had to share his mother's attention for as long as he can remember but never before had to give up his personal space. The friction between Jarrett and Kevon gains momentum when Kevon makes the basketball team and shows off for the girls, including Caprice, the girl Jarrett has a crush on. The protagonist is bound to get even at all costs. He spies on Kevon and his social worker, digging for any way to humiliate his foster brother without thought to the consequences. A pattern of mutual cruelties is set into motion which rapidly escalates on both sides. Plot and characters are realistic and engaging. References to farts, foot odor, and disgusting toenails abound. Gross-out humor aside, this is a solid story about dealing with problems that threaten to overwhelm and the importance putting one's own personal pain aside to understand the pain of another.- Kathy Cherniavsky, Ridgefield Library, CT (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In her first novel for middle-grade readers, Booth (Bronxwood) introduces an African-American family in Newark who open their home to foster children. By the time Kevon, 12, and his two-year-old sister, Treasure, arrive in the middle of the night, 11-year-old Jarrett has had enough of his mother's charity. Jarrett is forced to share a room with Kevon, who acts distant and ungrateful, and he's also annoyed to be attending summer school, with the threat of having to repeat the sixth grade. Even his usual joys-crushing on his down-to-earth friend Caprice, taking step class at a neighborhood center, and making horror movie trailers with his best friend-are overshadowed by Kevon's presence. Jarrett snoops into Kevon's past in hopes of getting rid of him, but, predictably, the truth he uncovers evokes sympathy. Booth offers candid insight into racism, poverty, and the foster care system without becoming heavy-handed; she also sensitively depicts a character's coming-out moment. Jarrett's evolution from a position of resistance to an acceptance of circumstances beyond his control is believably subtle. Ages 8-12. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Jarrett has a complicated home life. The would-be seventh grader is technically an only child, but his mom takes in foster children; therefore they "get all kinda babies all the time." The latest arrival, toddler Treasure, comes with a surprise: her older brother, Kevon, will be sharing Jarrett's room. But that's only part of the problem. Jarrett, who is attending summer school to avoid repeating sixth grade, has an inferiority complex where Kevon is concerned: Kevon seems to be better than Jarrett at basketball, meeting girls, everything. Relations between the two boys are tense from the start, so Jarrett concocts an ill-advised plan to get Kevon's estranged father to take Kevon home. This leads to disaster, and Jarrett is called on to fix his mistake -- and save Kevon in the process. Booth has a whole lot on her plate here. The myriad subplots (including Jarrett's best friend Ennis's struggle to come out of the closet; an asthma attack that nearly kills Jarrett; and the rocky relationship between Jarrett's mom and her boyfriend) threaten to overwhelm the narrative, but Jarrett's remarkably credible voice carries the day. Jarrett is, admittedly, hard to love for most of the story, but his ultimate redemption is well earned and satisfying. Booth (Tyrell, rev. 1/07; Kendra, rev. 11/08) has won acclaim for her YA titles; her middle-grade debut shows that she can write for a younger audience as well. sam bloom (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Booth offers a glimpse of gritty inner-city life for a middle-grade audience through the eyes of 11-year-old Jarrett. Jarrett's failing summer school, making an ignominious repetition of sixth grade seem all too likely. His mother, fine at nurturing a long series of foster babies, is surprisingly oblivious to his floundering attempts to manage the schoolwork and his resulting discouragement, an emotional distance she also maintains with strong male role model Terrence, her boyfriend. Then she takes in Kevon, mature beyond his 12 years, and his toddler sister, Treasure. Jarrett resentfully shares his room and life with Kevon, but he also spies on him, discovering much about his foster brother's mysterious, unhappy past. At the same time, he and best friend Ennis are cleverly crafting a horror film trailer at the community center that plays a major, positive role in local kids' lives. Ennis is exploring his growing realization that "I don't like girls, and I don't think I ever will," a revelation Jarrett sensitively accepts, in sharp, not fully explained contrast to his increasingly bitter, self-indulgent conflict with Kevon. The many plotlines keep the narrative brisk, enhanced by believable dialogue and nicely rounded characters, even though their motivations don't always feel fully justified.Jarrett's frank view of the inner-city perils he faces is optimistically balanced by the strengths offered by family, friends and his community. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Eleven-year-old Jarrett is used to having foster babies in the house. Then case workers bring 12-year-old Kevon and Kevon's baby sister, Treasure, and Jarrett feels nothing but resentment about sharing his room with the new boy. Between his asthma attacks and difficulty passing summer school, Jarrett has enough to worry about without Kevon in his business. But as Jarrett learns why Kevon and Treasure are in foster care, he starts to see things in a different light. Readers will identify with Jarrett, whose angry outbursts and cluelessness about girls are realistic and relatable. Although there are many teachable moments here, they never sound didactic, and Booth deftly illustrates how difficult it can be for both kids and adults to take responsibility for their actions and do the right thing. The multiple plotlines naturally reflect the complexities of modern life and add depth to Jarrett's story. This is an excellent title to help fill the void for younger readers seeking compelling, realistic stories set in America's inner cities.--Hayes, Summer Copyright 2014 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

THERE WAS A family living near my junior high school that fostered a gang of seven children; they fought viciously among their sibling pack, but pity the outsider who glared at a single one of them. I thought of them while reading "Kinda Like Brothers" and "Half a World Away." Both show how fragile yet electric the cord that joins families through foster care and adoption can be. In "Kinda Like Brothers," Coe Booth, a winner of The Los Angeles Times Book Prize for young adult literature, tells a painfully funny story about younger children in foster care and their ersatz siblings. As the novel begins, 11-year-old Jarrett would like nothing better than to sleep peacefully in his own bed, but his harried-yet-handling-it-all mother announces the arrival of another foster child. "Babies have been coming and going in my house since I could remember," Jarrett says. This time it's an injured toddler, Treasure, along with Kevon, her older brother. Jarrett balks at life's unfairness - especially having to share his room. Popular and taller, Kevon soon overshadows Jarrett at the community center where they hang out. At "Man Group," the boys are coached on the facts of life, including, after witnessing a counselor's humiliating treatment by the police, what to do during a stop-and-frisk. Booth lends a deft touch to this as well as to the sorts of struggles experienced by tweens everywhere. When it appears that, miraculously, Jarrett's crush, Caprice, likes him - in spite of his penchant for spying, and his need for a toenail clipper and some deodorant - Kevon reveals to Caprice that Jarrett is being held back at school. Jarrett is furious and seeks revenge, at great cost to Kevon and himself. Even with glimpses into the desperation that has led Kevon and Treasure to foster care, and the survival skills that are, sadly, mandatory for male African-American children, it is the barbs, jabs and, ultimately, bonding between the "brothers" that Booth's readers will appreciate. On my wish list: a follow-up about Jarrett's best friend, Ennis, who is questioning his sexual orientation. Compared with Jarrett, Jaden, the narrator of the Newbery Medal winner Cynthia Kadohata's "Half a World Away," seems to be one breadcrumb away from blowing over the edge. It isn't enough that Jaden's adoptive mother, Penni, has extended her heart; Jaden feels no love for her. He does love Thomas Edison, holder of more than a thousand patents: "Jaden wouldn't hate life like he often did, if only he could invent that much," Kadohata writes. Adopted from Romania as a 4-year-old, he retains enough memory to know his mother abandoned him to an orphanage, a gulag existence where he learned to disconnect emotionally and fight for every morsel of food. Eight years later, only mistrust, stashing away hunks of bread, and the wonderment of electricity keep him going. Jaden pushes Penni and his adoptive father, Steve, beyond tolerable limits - yet they endure. We learn that a psychiatrist has provided explanations of Jaden's behavior while offering Jaden coping strategies like "aggressive running" and flicking electric switches on and off to quash an impulse to set things aflame. Now Jaden faces a new crisis: He must fly to Kazakhstan with his parents to adopt a baby boy. Although Jaden's mistrust hackles are raised by this possible "replacement baby," once in Kazakhstan he finds himself drawn to the orphans, especially Dimash, a cheeky, grunting toddler at the "baby house." Jaden ably navigates the multiethnic, multilingual Central Asian village, complete with a staring camel or two, while his parents adjust to the stark realities of adoption Kazakhstan-style. Kadohata's stunningly intimate narrative reveals a complex boy, as self-protective as he is a danger to himself, but oh so clear about the true nature of things. When he begins to change, it is largely thanks to some new connections: Sam, the family's avuncular driver, and little Dimash, with whom he feels the spark of magic. Booth's and Kadohata's characters face problems that might seem overwhelming. Yet both books leave us hopeful about these bonds forged out of imperfect systems. We finish them not just rooting for the cohesion of these families, but believing in them. RITA WILLIAMS-GARCIA'S0 latest novel, "Gone Crazy in Alabama," will be published next spring.