Brothers – ‘When We were Two’ – Robert Newton
Dan’s had enough and takes off from home – the trouble is Eddie, his younger brother has decided to tag along too. What is he to do? Turn around to take him back? Send him back to a cruel and aggressive father – the one he is fleeing from himself?
Eddie is determined and refuses to go back anyway. So to make tracks , Dan has to encourage the marching activity Eddie loves, put up with his incessant chatter and humour him with stories and imaginings. And thus they march away from their old life in Gunnedah.
Along the road (to the distant Port Macquarie), Dan has to have his wits about him, as they encounter different people with different levels of interest in the pair. Dan is wary of the many of the adults they meet on the road; including one who shows an uncomfortable interest in young Eddie. (Eddie is a little slow following a childhood accident; Dan is hugely protective of him.)
Robert Newton has blended some endearing characters in this tale, and he takes you alongside on their march, with both humorous events and soulful accounts of the boys’ past. Each step they take becomes a triumph, as they overcome lots of hurdles along the way – both physical and mental hurdles, and you really want to cheer them on towards their goal.
Eddie is as delightful, as Daniel is dedicated – a terrific team of two. A group of would-be soldiers also finds Eddie endearing, when the boys join their march over the mountains to join up for the Great War. Together they become an interesting band, as Eddie’s childlike antics brings out the true nature of the men and boys around him, as they all move towards their own goals.
There are many changing moods in ‘When we were two’ – among them are periods of determination, anxiety, confusion, sadness and happiness. Dan and Eddie are searching for their lost mother, on a journey away from the past, towards an unknown future. It is the strength of their brotherly love and dedication that spurs them on, and it is indeed…
‘A powerful, heart-rending story’…
N.B. Shortlisted for CBCA Older Readers award. Is this one the winner?