Yuri’s big brother is in juvenile detention and their parents have moved to a new house, because they want nothing more to do with him.
Can you abandon a member of your family who has done something terrible? Can you stop loving them? Stefan’s parents have a pretty harsh answer to these difficult questions: Yes. When their elder son is involved in a serious crime and is sent to a youth detention centre, they move to a different town, leaving behind any reminders of him. It’s as if he never existed.
Eleven-year-old Yuri, whose life changes overnight, has no idea what’s going on, and he starts writing letters to his big brother. With touching persistence, he decides to investigate when his letters don’t reach Stefan and his parents refuse to tell Yuri why they’ve started a new life without him.
In the meantime, he also has to settle in at his new school. Lonneke, the lonely girl with the sparkling eyes, really wants to be his friend. She tells him that she’s lost a brother, too. But is that really true? De Wild creates a highly charged atmosphere of attraction and repulsion between these two characters, ably demonstrating just what a skilled writer he is.
Stefan’s crime long remains a mystery, but the book is more about his absence than about the secret. What is more important is De Wild’s clever depiction
of the way his little brother becomes entangled within his love, his guilt and his anger. A highlight of the story is Yuri’s heroic attempt to return to his old house, when he loses a shoe to the train doors on the way.
Every word of Broergeheim (A Brother’s Secret) is in the right place and De Wild challenges his readers to think about a problem that is too difficult even for adults to cope with. Yuri ultimately turns out to be wiser than both his father and his mother.