Summer Brother by Jaap Robben

Summer Brother

Jaap Robben

I just couldn’t stop reading - I became immensely involved in the story about this dysfunctional family, with the seriously disabled Lucien, the heroic, heart-warming, endearing but also clumsy efforts of 13-year old Brian to look after him, as well as the frustratingly neglectful behaviour of Maurice, their father. But despite the dismal situation I felt compassion, love and care take the lead. Lightness prevails where awkwardness threatens.


Chipped stones crunch beneath the soft tyre. Wasps zigzag all around us. Lucien kept grinding to a halt every few steps and trying to pull me in another direction, so I sat him in the wheelbarrow. The further up the rutted track I push him, the heavier he seems to get. Thank goodness we’re almost at the top. Then all we have to do is cross the road and from there it’s only a little way down the slope. You can almost hear the stream from here. Suddenly Lucien gets all antsy. 'Feffe!' he shouts.

'We’re almost there,' I say. 'Keep still.'

He’s wobbling so much I can barely keep the wheelbarrow steady.

'Did you get stung?' I set the barrow down, but Lucien is rocking so much he tips the whole thing over. Clang goes the metal tub and he’s face down in the dirt. Motionless, like he’s listening to moles tunnelling below. 'Are you okay?' I kneel down beside him, try to look into his eyes. For a moment I’m afraid he’s broken something, or even that he’s dying. I brush a few chippings from his cheek. 'Feffe!' he croaks.

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