Secret Demons: Kristen Nathan reviews The Half Brother by Holly LeCraw

What if you finally got the person you’ve been pining over for years, only to learn a secret that could ruin it forever? In Holly LeCraw’s new novel The Half Brother, Charlie Garrett finds himself in that exact dilemma. He faces a choice of telling his long admired love, May, a truth about his family’s past or locking it away as if everything’s fine.

What’s the most relatable about Charlie’s character is his ability to do just that—pretend everything is a-okay. In reality he’s crumbling inside, but he’s made himself so numb he’s convinced nothing affects him. This is a common mask among humans, hiding what we’re really going through because we don’t want to seem messed up or judged by others. Many of the characters in this story possess honest character flaws such as Charlie, with the one thing common being their ability to mask their own pain.

Unraveling in a colorful and lyrical prose, The Half Brother not only keeps the reader entertained with plot twists, but entranced with language as well. The words have the ability to awaken the inner poet in all of us and interestingly enough, Charlie’s character teaches poetry as well, so even the characters enjoy word play. Anyone can tell a story, but it takes a certain talent to evoke all the senses and break out of mundane descriptions and sentence structures.

LeCraw also kept it fresh by having three separate chapters from Charlie’s point-of-view but focused on a different person. These three people have shaped Charlie the most and contain life altering secrets of their own. If revealed these truths could lead to betrayal.

There’s Anita, his mother, a woman who did what she had to, to survive. May, who seems almost too sweet to be true but is soured by others’ secrets. And then there’s Nick, or Nicky as Charlie refers. The special one, the half brother. Nick may have the most frightening demons of all, but he also manages to shine the brightest. Pain and pretending go hand-in-hand.

Charlie is faced with many choices, some of which I found myself particularly annoyed with, but again, I appreciated the honesty in the creation of the characters. The reader will be pleased when they realize they aren’t absorbing a typical love story. Love is not the only lesson, but the connection between family, our secrets and demons, and what will happen when those components are combined and revealed. It got me wondering how far I would go to cover a truth I knew would potentially blow up my life.

The Half Brother is a good read for those that enjoy realistic fiction, lyrical prose, and diving into people’s imperfect and insecure minds. It also holds a special place for those with a love of teaching. Holly LeCraw is also the author of The Swimming Pool, released in April 2011.

The Half Brother


Holly LeCraw



268 pages