One Brother Shy

One Brother Shy

Book - 2017
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From the two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, and author of The Best Laid Plans , comes a new story about a man tormented by an event from his youth, and the journey he finds himself on to heal and to learn who he is.

Few people know the real Alex MacAskill. Most of the world sees a painfully and chronically shy software engineer in his mid-20s, soft-spoken, a bit of a loner, and someone easy to escape notice wherever possible--and that's just the way Alex wants it. Because no matter how many years have passed, the incident known only as "Gabriel" in the MacAskill family is something that still haunts him.
But when his mother, one of the only people in the world who Alex felt comfortable as himself around, dies after a long illness, he suddenly has no choice but to face the very thing that he's been avoiding since that night in high school. In an instant, Alex finds himself trying to piece together the mystery of his identity, and on a search for parts of his family he never knew existed--a search that takes him from Ottawa to London to Moscow, encountering along the way echoes of the Cold War, painful memories from his past, and even the 1972 Russian hockey team--a search that ultimately helps Alex discover himself.
With his trademark wit and captivating storytelling, Terry Fallis has written a novel unlike any of his others. One Brother Shy is at once poignant and humorous, heartbreaking and heartwarming, and readers will not soon forget Alex MacAskill.
Publisher: Toronto :, McClelland & Stewart,, [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780771050725
Branch Call Number: F FAL
Characteristics: 394 pages ; 21 cm

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sloanelm
Jun 09, 2018

I’d say I read this book in one sitting, but several times I had to put it down because I could no longer see the text through my tears (and there’s also that pesky need to sleep.) I enjoy Fallis' writing, especially the various Canadianisms throughout. (An outrage! one of the Goodreads reviewers gave the book a low score and said it was too Canadian, “not that there’s anything wrong with being Canadian.”) For me, it is always a relief to read a novel with a therapist character that does not make me wince or feel ill. Globe and Mail: “Terry Fallis writes just about the tidiest romantic comedic novels you can find on Earth, let alone in Canada.”

g
GLNovak
Apr 20, 2018

This is a light read for anyone who doesn't want to think too much but just go with the flow of the story. Alex has issues with socializing, the cause of which we are told is something to do with Gabriel. He is a programmer living with his dying mother, and then the inevitable happens. His mother has left him a photograph that starts him on a quest to discover his roots. He is successful, and during the search he manages to deal with his psychological troubles and come out the other side as a healthier person. There is a spot in the book where Fallis does a bit of soapboxing on social licence and the need for stakeholder input. It was not really necessary to the story but I read it and forgave him. The direction of the whole plot is pretty predictable from about halfway through, but still I wanted to finish reading to get to the feel-good ending. It is always nice when things turn out the way you expect them to.

m
mckeett
Feb 03, 2018

Nice to hear all the references to Ottawa and historical events of Canadian interest. But it is a very one dimensional story at about the grade 6 level.

ehbooklover Nov 02, 2017

3.5 stars. An engaging, light-hearted read with a very likeable protagonist that touches on some pretty serious subjects. This title was a nice change from some of the ultra-dark books that I've been reading lately.

caravan Oct 19, 2017

This is a likable quick read. The “Gabriel” incident caused the main character to cocoon himself from life for years. Now with strong family support, he was finally ready broke through and be his true self again. The story has humour, mystery and heart warming.

WPLBookClub Oct 04, 2017

The Whistler Public Library and Armchair Books book club read "One Brother Shy" in September 2017. Terry Fallis will be in Whistler next weekend for the Whistler Writers Festival, so we were all keen to read his latest novel. No one had trouble finishing this book, although it didn't have much of an impact on most of our readers. We agreed that it was an easy, light read, but it wasn't wall-to-wall laughs like some of Fallis' early work.

We particularly enjoyed discussing:
- The subjectivity of humour. We don't often read funny books in this club, partially because humour is SO subjective, and some of our members avoid reading humour altogether, because it is so often at someone's expense. (We shared our favourite funny books as well, many of which were memoirs.)
- Terry Fallis' body of work. Those of us who have read more than one of his books agreed that One Brother Shy isn't his best work, but it's still highly readable, light, and easy. The Best Laid Plans (his first novel) was the unanimous favourite.
- Bullying in the digital age. One of the major plot points in this novel revolves around a highly traumatic case of cyber-bullying. We discussed how bullying has changed over the years, and how damaging it can be now that it's so easy to disseminate humiliating photos and videos.

1
1_Great_Book
Sep 29, 2017

We recognize Fallis' style again, though the theme has changed from politics to long lost twin brothers and hockey, so Canadian thread is conserved though the novel largely takes place outside of Canada. We can detect that this is a new area of exploration for Fallis and the story is not as tight and punchy as in Well Laid Plans. The plot goes a bit beyond the believable, but I forgive him that because after all, this is fiction, and what Canadian doesn't enjoy a bit of hockey!

Some clever lines but the writing is slap-dash an plot is shallow. There were no surprises and everything was so predictable. over 400 pages for what could be reduced to a short story.

h
Herne
Jul 24, 2017

I loved this book. I found the story very poignant, it pulled at my heartstrings without going overboard into sentimentality. I loved the characters, the situation, and the resolution. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read.

b
becker
Jul 21, 2017

This was perhaps not the perfect book for me but I still want to recommend it to anyone who is looking for a charming, entertaining, easy read for the summer. If you normally read Terry Fallis, you will enjoy this book.

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