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Kleber and Barnaby are brothers, Kleber is 17 and Barnaby 22, but Barnaby (know by all as Simple) has learning difficulties, and when their father preoccupied with his new much younger wife, places Simple in an institution.
Kleber knows that is not the best place for his brother, so despite trying to complete college and find his own place in the world, quickly moves him out and into a flat share he’s found with some older students.
Simple’s presence in their lives quickly has an effect, changing how they see themselves and each other.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this book, whilst the moniker of ‘Simple’, was probably an affectionate one, I wasn’t sure how at ease I’d be with it. Thankfully it is an affectionate one, and for the most part I was okay with it.
My Brother Simple, turned out to be an enjoyable and tender read. The love between Kleber and Simple is really nicely played out. Kleber clearly adores his ‘older’ brother, but can still be irritated by him.
If fact it was nice to see that Kleber isn’t painted as a saint, he makes bad choices, looks at the wrong girl for the wrong reasons, and ignores the right girl, he is very much a seventeen year old!
There’s a strong bunch of ‘supporting’ characters with the flat-mates and their cantankerous neighbour, Mr. Villededieu (who fills the ‘I’m going to complain about you all the time, but actually quite like you role’). I say ‘supporting’ characters, but it’s nearer an ensemble cast, as they all have their own stories and journeys to follow during the course of the book.
My Brother Simple by Marie-Aude Murial, is a warm-hearted, often humorous book, that manages to make its point without being preachy.
Kleber is trying to juggle sixth form and two girls. Then he decides to take on his brother, Simple. His brother has learning difficulties, but Kleber can’t bear to see him in an institution. He finds a flatshare in the city, and takes Simple to live with him there.
The flatmates react in different ways, but one thing becomes clear – Simple is not an i-di-ot. He changes the dynamic between them completely; ultimately he changes their lives.
This funny, moving award-winning novel is captivating readers across the world.
My copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.