Blood Brothers, by S.A. Harazin, is one heck of a page-turner. The "brothers" are Joey, a guy with everything--money, family, friends, off to Duke in the fall, and Clay, who has so little he can't imagine a happy ending for himself. The closest he comes is planning a cross country bike trip with Joey. Joey is one thing that's keeping Clay's life together; the other is his job at the local hospital, where he has found adult support and approval. Then one day, in the summer after the two boys graduate from high school, Clay heads over to Joey's house, and his friend and his job and his one dream are thrown into jeopardy.
Joey, the golden boy who doesn't do bad things, is off his head. Violent. Hallucinating. And then, after Clay pushes him hard in self defense, he's on life support at the hospital where Clay works. What happened to Joey is a mystery Clay must solve.
Blood Brothers is told in the first person present, with flashbacks to the boys' shared past. It moves quickly back and forth, and there always seems to be something happening, which gives the book a snappy feeling. This may add to its appeal to teen readers (and, perhaps going out a limb here, boy teen readers in particular), and it certainly kept my attention focused. But it's a trade off--in a book like this, where the action moves at a rapid pace from scene to scene, past to present, the reader and the narrator have little time to reflect, appreciate, empathize.
The first person present is not the easiest voice in which to tell about secondary characters- some in this book didn't convince me at all (especially Clay's father). One memorable exception is the local sheriff--the description of the dusty pictures of long-gone foster children in his living room made him suddenly real to me. Much of this book is set in the hospital where Clay works, and here the first person present combined with Harazin's personal knowledge of nursing made for compelling reading.*
For more about this book and its author, here's a link to an interview with S.A. Harazin at the YA Authors Cafe.
ps: This book comes with the added benefit of an anti-drug message that is powerful without being didactic!
*I know that book reviewers shouldn't whine because the author didn't write the book the reviewer wanted to read, so this isn't a whine. But-- if S.A. Harazin were ever to decide to write more books about high school kids considering careers in the medical profession, or books set in hospitals, I'd read them in a shot! Where is the Sue Barton, Student Nurse, for today's teen readers? I mean this, and am now rifling through my head trying to thing of contemporary YA "career" stories and failing.