In most ways, Brendan Buckley is not unlike other 10-year-olds. He likes sports (he's a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do), enjoys hanging out with his friends (especially riding bikes with best friend Khalfani) and is super curious about everything. In fact, he even has a confidential notebook in which he lists both his top-secret scientific discoveries and his as-yet unanswered probing questions.
But as a child of mixed race, Brendan has always known he is different and has often pondered his heritage—"Am I white? Am I black? . . . Why do some people just not understand?" Those are just some of the mysteries Brendan records in his notebook and strives to solve.
Young readers will be readily drawn into Brendan's active life, especially after a serendipitous turn of events changes everything for him. A budding rock hound, Brendan attends a mineral convention and meets Ed, the grandfather—the white grandfather—he never knew he had. As Brendan dons his detective hat, the story follows him on his quest to uncover the hidden history behind Ed's absence.
In her first novel, author Sundee Frazier is careful to draw Brendan as a well-rounded character with both silly and serious sides. She weaves suspense into Brendan's search for self and throws in a bit of science along the way. Readers, even reluctant ones, will read on to see where Brendan's journey will lead.
Frazier, an author of mixed race, is well poised to pen this tale of self-realization and acceptance. She adeptly uses analogies that younger readers can relate to—such as comparing mixed race to the delicate combination of white and black minerals that enhance the beauty of a rock.
Science may not be able to explain all the questions in Brendan's notebook, but it becomes the driving force in his search to discover who he really is. And in the process, he gains not only a new hobby, but a newfound family dynamic as well.
Sharon Verbeten is a freelance writer and former children's librarian from De Pere, Wisconsin.