The Death and Life of Benny Brooks: Sort of a Memoir
A BCCB Blue Ribbon Best Book of the Year
★ "Captivating…. Long's heartening memoir portrays a boy facing challenging situations with hard-won hope and increasing maturity." —Booklist, starred review
★ "A tender, vulnerable portrayal of one kid’s attempt to shore up his strengths to piece together the shards of a deeply shattered heart.... Readers will appreciate Long’s honest exploration of a troubled family that is bound both by love and tragedy." —The Bulletin, starred review
An award-winning children’s book creator grapples with the darker undercurrents of his childhood in this poignant and honest illustrated memoir, for readers of Free Lunch and The List of Things That Will Not Change.
Benny's life is slowly unraveling. His parents are newly divorced, his mom chooses to move away, and Benny and his brother and sister are left with their chain-smoking dad, who has just been diagnosed with lung cancer. Benny is lonely, anxious, and very angry. He can't sleep at night and spends his days trying to survive fifth grade.
Writing from a personal place, award-winning creator Ethan Long sheds light on the challenges of growing up amidst family turmoil in this thought-provoking, bighearted story that brims with hope.
Praise for The Death and Life of Benny Brooks: Sort of a Memoir
Praise for The Death and Life of Benny Brooks:
A BCCB Blue Ribbon Best Book of the Year
* "Long is known for his wit, and it emerges in this captivating story as well, particularly in his expressive grayscale drawings, which appear throughout the book. The cartoonlike illustrations keep the tone from becoming unbearably dark, even when the topic is death…. Long's heartening memoir portrays a boy facing challenging situations with hard-won hope and increasing maturity."—Booklist, starred review
* "A tender, vulnerable portrayal of one kid’s attempt to shore up his strengths to piece together the shards of a deeply shattered heart. His voice rings absolutely true, especially when he realizes that other people are in fact struggling with these lousy circumstances and that his siblings and parents are coping in different, and often toxic, ways. Readers will appreciate Long’s honest exploration of a troubled family that is bound both by love and tragedy."—The Bulletin, starred review
"Sometimes biting, often intense, and marked by moments both of comical awkwardness and grace."
"Ethan Long pulls from events in his childhood to deliver an ardent illustrated novel…. Dynamic, youthful-feeling pencil drawings by the protagonist permeate this slice-of-life narrative, allowing readers glimpses into how Benny views his circumstances. The characters’ challenges are realistically handled, and painful moments are balanced with levying humor."—Publishers Weekly
"A fictionalized coming-of-age story [set] … during the 1970s. Benny’s parents are going through a divorce, and his father is dying of lung cancer…. The book’s tactful handling of mental health and therapy is balanced, respectful, and representative of the actual process. Recommended purchase for libraries seeking nuanced depictions of divorce, death in the family, and trauma."
—School Library Journal
"Ethan Long’s fictional memoir is heartbreaking, sad, and—believe it or not—funny. It tackles such serious subjects as divorce and cancer with a gentle, humorous, and guiding hand; it’s the perfect book for readers trying their best to come to terms with the many curveballs life hurls. It also has the most important quality a story can have—honesty. There’s not a false note in it."—Janet Tashjian, author of Hannah Sharpe Cartoon Detective and the bestselling My Life series
"A terrific read that tackles real-world kid issues with honesty, humor, and heart."—Tom Watson, bestselling creator of the Stick Dog books
"Heartbreaking and beautiful. Long tells his deeply personal story with raw honesty and endearing humor. Benny's journey of resilience and perseverance will surely resonate with readers both young and old."—Jason Carter Eaton, bestselling author of The Facttracker
"Ethan Long's The Death and Life of Benny Brooks examines some difficult real-life situations and ventures into very dark childhood places, yet it is ultimately life-affirming and at times laugh out loud funny."—Dan Yaccarino, creator of City Under the City
"This book stole my heart…. Every child needs to read this book."—Marilyn Robbins, The Bookies Bookstore (Denver, CO)