By K.A. Holt
Chronicle Books, 2015
Timothy (12) is under house arrest after stealing a wallet and using the credit card to pay for medicine for his sick baby brother, Levi. The book is in the form of the court-ordered journal which he has to write as a condition of his house arrest, if he doesn't comply he's warned repeatedly that he'll be "sent to 'juvie' so fast it'll make your head spin".
It's written in blank verse, which is perfect for the voice of this boy, who is not a bad boy, just desperate. There are a couple of people in authority who he sees regularly - Mrs Bainbridge, his psychologist, and James the probation officer. They both read and respond to his journal. He doesn't hesitate to tell them in very clear terms just what his life has been like.
Timothy shares all the details of Levi's health issues, which he's suffered since he was born. Levi has a 'trach' - a tube in his neck through which he breathes. It often gets clogged, or infected, and he's often so bad that he has to go back to the hospital. And he needs medication which costs a lot.
The stress of Levi's illness has also led to his father leaving, another sad burden for Timothy.
Other important people in his life are his best friend Jose and his family, and the nurses who come to the house to help with Levi. One nurse is wonderful, but can't do more hours, so is replaced when funding is available for more assistance, but the new nurse doesn't have the caring attitude and adds to the stress of the situation.
There's not a happy ending, but the Timothy we know at the end knows more about himself, and the world he lives in, and what's important to him, and the price he's prepared to pay for that.
Definitely a heartbreaker that stays with you long after the last page is read.