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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkin's comes a new heartbreakingly tender middle grade novel-in-verse about the bonds between two brothers and the love they share. Twelve-year-old Trace Reynolds has always looked up to his brother, mostly because Will, who's five years older, has never looked down on him. It was Will who taught Trace to ride a bike, would From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkin's comes a new heartbreakingly tender middle grade novel-in-verse about the bonds between two brothers and the love they share. Twelve-year-old Trace Reynolds has always looked up to his brother, mostly because Will, who's five years older, has never looked down on him. It was Will who taught Trace to ride a bike, would watch sports on TV with him, and cheer him on at little league. But when Will was knocked out cold during a football game, resulting in a brain injury--everything changed. Now, sixteen months later, their family is still living under the weight of the incident, that left Will with a facial tic, depression, and an anger he cannot always control, culminating in their parents' divorce. Afraid of further fracturing his family, Trace begins to cover for Will who, struggling with addiction to pain medication, becomes someone Trace doesn't recognize. But when the brother he loves so much becomes more and more withdrawn, and escalates to stealing money and ditching school, Trace realizes some secrets cannot be kept if we ever hope to heal.


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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkin's comes a new heartbreakingly tender middle grade novel-in-verse about the bonds between two brothers and the love they share. Twelve-year-old Trace Reynolds has always looked up to his brother, mostly because Will, who's five years older, has never looked down on him. It was Will who taught Trace to ride a bike, would From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkin's comes a new heartbreakingly tender middle grade novel-in-verse about the bonds between two brothers and the love they share. Twelve-year-old Trace Reynolds has always looked up to his brother, mostly because Will, who's five years older, has never looked down on him. It was Will who taught Trace to ride a bike, would watch sports on TV with him, and cheer him on at little league. But when Will was knocked out cold during a football game, resulting in a brain injury--everything changed. Now, sixteen months later, their family is still living under the weight of the incident, that left Will with a facial tic, depression, and an anger he cannot always control, culminating in their parents' divorce. Afraid of further fracturing his family, Trace begins to cover for Will who, struggling with addiction to pain medication, becomes someone Trace doesn't recognize. But when the brother he loves so much becomes more and more withdrawn, and escalates to stealing money and ditching school, Trace realizes some secrets cannot be kept if we ever hope to heal.

30 review for What About Will

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gary Anderson

    Trace is a good kid and the central voice in What About Will (Putnam, 2021), the new novel in verse for middle-grade readers from Ellen Hopkins. Trace has good instincts and a solid moral code, but he also finds himself in a lot of situations with family and friends that cause self-doubt. Trace’s mother is a traveling rock musician divorced from Trace’s father, a man who tries to be a responsible dad but spends too much time away from home. Trace is talented at baseball, but his new teammate mig Trace is a good kid and the central voice in What About Will (Putnam, 2021), the new novel in verse for middle-grade readers from Ellen Hopkins. Trace has good instincts and a solid moral code, but he also finds himself in a lot of situations with family and friends that cause self-doubt. Trace’s mother is a traveling rock musician divorced from Trace’s father, a man who tries to be a responsible dad but spends too much time away from home. Trace is talented at baseball, but his new teammate might be even better, and she’s a girl. And then there is Will, Trace’s older brother. Will has never been the same since suffering a football injury, and lately he has been even meaner than usual. Trace loves his brother and wants to give him benefit of the doubt but is unsure how to handle things that seem simultaneously right and wrong. Trace doesn’t know until late in the book that Will is struggling with opioid addiction, but readers will figure it out much sooner because we see the clues that Trace ignores, misunderstands, or downplays. Ellen Hopkins has crafted powerful novels in verse for a very long time, and What About Will continues her tradition of excellence. Trace’s interior monologue creates empathy, and Hopkins uses a variety of poetic conventions to emphasize his thought patterns, as well as to convey the tone of Trace’s conversations ranging from friendly banter to dramatic confrontations. Through it all, readers are led to consider what exactly makes a family, and what family members owe each other. What About Will follows Closer to Nowhere, the first Ellen Hopkins middle-grade title. I like the idea that middle-grade readers will become familiar with her work and then discover her young-adult titles when the time is right.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica White

    Ellen Hopkins writing middle grade novels makes my heart so happy. Like most of her books, What About Will was written in verse. This writing style makes it so easy to fly through her books, which is probably why I read this entire book in like.....4 hours. What About Will is the story of two brothers, Will and Trace. The story is told through Trace's point of view and details Will's downward spiral. Trace tries not to upset Will because he knows his anger is related to the traumatic brain injur Ellen Hopkins writing middle grade novels makes my heart so happy. Like most of her books, What About Will was written in verse. This writing style makes it so easy to fly through her books, which is probably why I read this entire book in like.....4 hours. What About Will is the story of two brothers, Will and Trace. The story is told through Trace's point of view and details Will's downward spiral. Trace tries not to upset Will because he knows his anger is related to the traumatic brain injury he suffered while playing football. But Trace misses the brother he used to have. He wants to help, even if he is only 12. Trace notices Will becoming more and more withdrawn everyday. He tries to tell his overworked dad and absentee mom, but they both brush it off as high school stress. At one point, Trace's mom tells him she's sure he'll go through this phase one day too. But Trace knows deep down that this is different. What I love about Ellen Hopkins is that even in this middle grade novel, she refuses to shy away from tough topics. This book deals with absentee parents, prison, addiction, and even rehab. Kids today need books like this because there's a good chance someone in your class is going through the same things. Hopkins knows that first hand and regularly writes about things going on in her life. The kids she's raising are all familiar with these topics because they're living it. This review and reviews for literally all of Ellen Hopkins' books can be found at A Reader's Diary!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mika

    *2.5 Too many sexist comments for my liking. Even if it was a young boy narrating.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Patti Sabik

    Being a fan of Ellen Hopkins for some time now, I'm so very happy she is finally writing for the middle school audience. As a parent, I was thrilled when my own daughter coveted every book she read by Hopkins in high school and as a middle school librarian I've been recommending her to my 8th graders fervently. I'm thrilled to now have Hopkins on my shelf that I can confidently recommend to my students. "What About Will" is a page-turner and a gut-punching quick read. It is just what many of my y Being a fan of Ellen Hopkins for some time now, I'm so very happy she is finally writing for the middle school audience. As a parent, I was thrilled when my own daughter coveted every book she read by Hopkins in high school and as a middle school librarian I've been recommending her to my 8th graders fervently. I'm thrilled to now have Hopkins on my shelf that I can confidently recommend to my students. "What About Will" is a page-turner and a gut-punching quick read. It is just what many of my young teens are looking for when they come into my library. Hopkins makes the reader walk in Trace's shoes and see through his eyes. By the last page, you feel like you have experienced Trace's pain and loss over his brother's tragedy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Eileen Mackintosh

    There are a couple of reasons why this was a one day read for me. One is the verse writing style and the other reason is the quality story. It is intended for readers aged 10 and up. I am a huge distance from 10 (68) and I know times have changed since I was! I am sure when I was that age I would not have been reading about divorce, drugs and depression. I think things have changed for the better if there are books like this. This is a story about a young boy of 12, who is hoping for a return of There are a couple of reasons why this was a one day read for me. One is the verse writing style and the other reason is the quality story. It is intended for readers aged 10 and up. I am a huge distance from 10 (68) and I know times have changed since I was! I am sure when I was that age I would not have been reading about divorce, drugs and depression. I think things have changed for the better if there are books like this. This is a story about a young boy of 12, who is hoping for a return of his former family, discovering that a new family could even be better. #indigoemployee

  6. 4 out of 5

    Raven ♡

    it started a tad bit slow, but then it picked up fast. I felt a lot of emotions reading this. the main two being sad and frustrated. the topic(s) in this book were sad..so that put me in a sad mood kinda. I actually enjoyed this book honestly. Once I started to really get into it, I couldn't stop picking it up. would definitely recommend this. it started a tad bit slow, but then it picked up fast. I felt a lot of emotions reading this. the main two being sad and frustrated. the topic(s) in this book were sad..so that put me in a sad mood kinda. I actually enjoyed this book honestly. Once I started to really get into it, I couldn't stop picking it up. would definitely recommend this.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    Oh. My. Goodness. I could not put down this book in verse. The emotions were so raw and powerful throughout this entire book, but it wasn’t draining. This is an important book to show what kids go through, when to ask for help, and to know that no matter what may be going on, you are never a long. It’s a must read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Trace's brother Will is five years older than he is. He was a football player until he was involved in a bad tackle that left him with a facial nerve injury, anger management issues, and lots of pain. This lead to depression and deepened the rift between the boys' parents. Their mother fronts a band and had a decent amount of success, and their dad works security in a casino near their home in Las Vegas, and when the problems with Will got bad, their mother left t E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Trace's brother Will is five years older than he is. He was a football player until he was involved in a bad tackle that left him with a facial nerve injury, anger management issues, and lots of pain. This lead to depression and deepened the rift between the boys' parents. Their mother fronts a band and had a decent amount of success, and their dad works security in a casino near their home in Las Vegas, and when the problems with Will got bad, their mother left the family and went on tour. It's been a year since the divorce, and Trace spends a lot of his time at home alone. His father works, and Will leaves without much explanation. Will does have some friends, and plays on a baseball team, but he misses his mother and the way their family used to be. When a new girl, Cat, joins the team, some of his teammates are against a girl playing, but after a rocky start, Trace realizes that he and Cat share a lot of interests, and also each have some family problems that they don't share with everyone. Cat's older brother has run away from home, and she's moved to Las Vegas with another brother and her father, who is a fairly famous former baseball player. Her mother is staying in California in case her brother comes home. Cat does well on the team, and she and Trace start a solid friendship. Trace is the only one who sees that his brother is becoming more withdrawn, and seems to be getting into drugs, based on his furtive actions, new friends, and frequent odd demeanor. Trace wants to tell his father, but is afraid that he will then fight with Will. He does confide a bit in neighbor Mr. Cobb, who served in Vietnam and tells Will about some of his experiences in the war, and about his career as a nurse, and encourages Trace to tell his father about his brother's behavior. Even though it escalates to the point where Will steals money from Trace and even takes his baseball glove that Cat's father signed, Trace is reluctant to share this, especially since his father is dating Lily, who works at the senior facility where his grandfather lives. Trace does reach out to his mother, but she brushes him off, promising to visit when it is clear that she won't. When Will's behavior puts him in a life and death situation, will Trace finally be able to let his family know what is going on, and will they be able to pull together to help Will get through? Strengths: Opioid addiction is a horrible and growing problem in our society, but is more likely to touch the lives of middle school students in the way it touches Trace's. Whether it is a parent or an older brother, kids have to not only deal with the problem, but also go on with their schooling and lives. Hopkins does an excellent job of showing the effect that Will's actions have on Trace's life, and on his entire family. Will is good at hiding what is going on, and it is realistic that the father's work hours cause him to miss important signs. I love that Trace does have some supportive adults, like the fantastic Mr. Cobb, to help him. The new relationship with Lily, and Trace's reaction to it, is also realistically done, since he is against it at first but remains polite, then starts to enjoy Lily's positive personality, her cooking ability, and her labradoodle. It was interesting to see the mother's involvement from a distance. This book showed a hard reality, but wasn't completely without hope, which is all I ask for in sad, middle grade books. Weaknesses: I know that Ms. Hopkins' style is novels in verse, and the form is occasionally justified, but it's not really necessary. This would have worked just as well with the line spacing as straight prose. What I really think: I've always felt bad that middle school invited Ms. Hopkins to speak and then rescinded the invitation after they read her much grittier young adult novels, so it's interesting to see her enter the middle grade age group with Closer to Nowhere and this novel. She does an excellent job at laying out the genesis of addiction, the signs, the treatment that should happen, and the ways in which events progress in a world that is not perfect. This is a great choice for all middle and most elementary school libraries. Add this to the slowly growing list of novels where tweens are affected by addiction like Messner's The Seventh Wish(2016), Campbell's The Rule of Threes, Petro-Roy's Life in the Balance, Bishop's Where We Used to Roam, and Walters' The King of the Jam Sandwiches.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Heaven F.

    We need a book 2, haha. This was a fantastic read! I was not expecting to like it so much. I typically don't read non-Tim Shoemaker 400 pages books within 2 days, but I had a hard time putting "What About Will" down. I was on the edge of my seat whenever I turned to another page on my e-reader the entire time, wondering what would happen next. The author captures the emotions very well. You feel the pain that Trace has because his brother is slowly drifting away. On top of that, his parents got a We need a book 2, haha. This was a fantastic read! I was not expecting to like it so much. I typically don't read non-Tim Shoemaker 400 pages books within 2 days, but I had a hard time putting "What About Will" down. I was on the edge of my seat whenever I turned to another page on my e-reader the entire time, wondering what would happen next. The author captures the emotions very well. You feel the pain that Trace has because his brother is slowly drifting away. On top of that, his parents got a divorce and found new "loves of their lives." So much change is happening! You just want to cry with Trace and give him so many hugs. I also really like the in-verse style of writing. It's much like poetry, which I thought was very unique. It reminded me of "Inside Out and Back Again" by Thanhhá Lai. Now, there were a few things I disliked, which is why I gave it 4 stars. Will and Trace's Dad worked at a casino, h**k was used (only once though) and there was a substitute for a cuss word (*facepalm*). Because of the intensity of everything, I'd say this book would be best for kids ages 13 and up. Although it is classified as a MG, I feel like it's a bit much for that genre. Nevertheless, it was a great read!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joy Kirr

    Quick read. And the sense of urgency the entire time (for me) was palpable. Trace’s older brother Will is a lot like lots of teens these days… only Trace sees that no, he’s NOT “just being a teenager.” I loved the emphasis on telling adults about what you notice - even if it seems as if they wouldn’t want to hear it right then, or it’s probably no big deal. Yes, siblings, tell the adults in your life what is going on when you see that your brother or sister isn’t like they used to be. You could Quick read. And the sense of urgency the entire time (for me) was palpable. Trace’s older brother Will is a lot like lots of teens these days… only Trace sees that no, he’s NOT “just being a teenager.” I loved the emphasis on telling adults about what you notice - even if it seems as if they wouldn’t want to hear it right then, or it’s probably no big deal. Yes, siblings, tell the adults in your life what is going on when you see that your brother or sister isn’t like they used to be. You could save their life.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Roof Beam Reader (Adam)

    Wonderful! Ellen Hopkins does it again, this time in Middle Grade fiction.

  12. 5 out of 5

    ALI

    Did not pick a good mental health day to finish this!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tanya Prax

    4.5 stars

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own. Ellen Hopkins is a well-known author, most notably for her YA works such as Crank. Her last middle grade book Closer to Nowhere wasn't as strong (in my opinion), so I went into this reading with some reservations. Let me just say know, on the record, those reservations were unwarranted. This was a lovely, gritty while still being relatable and appropriate for middle grade Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own. Ellen Hopkins is a well-known author, most notably for her YA works such as Crank. Her last middle grade book Closer to Nowhere wasn't as strong (in my opinion), so I went into this reading with some reservations. Let me just say know, on the record, those reservations were unwarranted. This was a lovely, gritty while still being relatable and appropriate for middle grade readers, book about what it means to have a family, to love someone who is struggling, and how much you can really control in other peoples lives. Trace has always looked up to his older brother. Will helped him learn how to skateboard, took the time to hang out with him, and Trace didn't think anything could ever break their bond. Then Will suffers a traumatic brain injury and everything changes. Their mom leaves to spend time on the road with her band. Their dad is busy at work. Will retreats into himself as he suffers from headaches and the long lasting effects of TBI. And Trace just wants things to go back to normal. But as the school year ends and he is forced to deal with the changes that have happened, Trace begins to realize that sometimes you have to accept people as they are. Highly recommend. This is a first purchase for all collections serving readers grades 5-8.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emma Presnell

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This. Books. Oh my goodness. This made me cry! It was such a heartbreaking book, but a really good one at that. The main character had the weight of the world on his shoulders but never once did he lose his cool. I wanted him to lash out so badly at Will but he had such an understanding of the situation without actually fully knowing what was going on? How?? It dealt with so many great themes like substance abuse, divorced families, girls hanging with boys, female empowerment, and So. Many. More. I This. Books. Oh my goodness. This made me cry! It was such a heartbreaking book, but a really good one at that. The main character had the weight of the world on his shoulders but never once did he lose his cool. I wanted him to lash out so badly at Will but he had such an understanding of the situation without actually fully knowing what was going on? How?? It dealt with so many great themes like substance abuse, divorced families, girls hanging with boys, female empowerment, and So. Many. More. I wish the ending was more resolved, like I would’ve loved to see Tate and his brother actually get some resolution or when Will is better, but other than that this blew me away. I think everyone regardless of age should read this.

  16. 5 out of 5

    TJL

    2.5 stars. It would have gotten four if so much time hadn't been spent on that bizarre 1950s-esque "GIRLS playing SPORTS!?!?!" routine that the author kept awkwardly shoving into the story. Where in the hell do you live where a girl playing baseball is that big of a damn controversy? I have no grace left for social issues being crammed into a story so the author can get woke-points. I just don't. 2.5 stars. It would have gotten four if so much time hadn't been spent on that bizarre 1950s-esque "GIRLS playing SPORTS!?!?!" routine that the author kept awkwardly shoving into the story. Where in the hell do you live where a girl playing baseball is that big of a damn controversy? I have no grace left for social issues being crammed into a story so the author can get woke-points. I just don't.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kae

    Really good quick read that deals with the struggles of being overlooked due to bigger troubles within the life of the family. It was well done and not too hard for most kids. (I say most only because it might strike too close to home for some)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    This returns Hopkins back to the verse and topics that had enamored readers. She's written for YA, written plenty of nonfiction before Crank, then went to writing a bit of adult and then back again and now to middle grade. It's a verse novel which she made mainstream but is now a format du jour, yet she always makes it work. Her raw stories show life as it is and knowing her backstory and then reading her author's note about why she wrote the story makes it all the more appropriate for her to be This returns Hopkins back to the verse and topics that had enamored readers. She's written for YA, written plenty of nonfiction before Crank, then went to writing a bit of adult and then back again and now to middle grade. It's a verse novel which she made mainstream but is now a format du jour, yet she always makes it work. Her raw stories show life as it is and knowing her backstory and then reading her author's note about why she wrote the story makes it all the more appropriate for her to be writing a story like this. At it's core, Trace is the younger brother to Will. Their family is at a crossroads because the mother has left the family because she's a musician, but it's also to separate herself from the pain Will is experiencing after a football injury that is leading him down the path to anger and addiction. Trace is watching all of this unfold along with his father's new girlfriend even though his father doesn't have a lot of time for him. There's an older man who befriends Trace who helps to guide him especially because he's torn between the loyalty to his older brother and protecting secrets but also trying to keep his family together as much as he could though it's already irreparable broken. Trace's experiences are powerful. His observations and actions are what you'd expect and the consequences are shown through Hopkins' capable storytelling. Hopkins does this so well with every story she writes because her reality is a reality experienced by many and she knows how to connect with her audience. Absolutely recommended.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julie Jaeger

    Another fantastic middle grade novel. Can’t wait to share it with students.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emma Lauren

    What About Will by Ellen Hopkins is the story of Trace, a 12-year-old boy, and his brother, Will. Will used to be his best friend, his biggest supporter, and everything on top of that. But after a football injury leaves his brain not the same as it used to be, Trace is left... feeling alone. Trace is left with the conflict of being a "good brother," and actually talking to his single dad about the weird behaviors that he notices about his brother... like the pill bottles, his red eyes, his shady What About Will by Ellen Hopkins is the story of Trace, a 12-year-old boy, and his brother, Will. Will used to be his best friend, his biggest supporter, and everything on top of that. But after a football injury leaves his brain not the same as it used to be, Trace is left... feeling alone. Trace is left with the conflict of being a "good brother," and actually talking to his single dad about the weird behaviors that he notices about his brother... like the pill bottles, his red eyes, his shady behavior, etc. I enjoyed this book, and found Trace mirrored in a lot of the students I have in my own fourth grade classroom. Another win by Hopkins, who is able to turn any topic into a beautiful prose.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Covering important middle grade territory here, author Ellen Hopkins traces the growing concerns of one boy about his brother who suffered traumatic brain injuries after a JV football game. Her handling of this topic and a book for this audience is just as sure as her handling of previous topics for older readers. Using her accessible novel in verse approach, Hopkins relies on twelve-year-old Trace Reynolds who lives in Las Vegas to tell the story, which shows just how much impact a sibling's he Covering important middle grade territory here, author Ellen Hopkins traces the growing concerns of one boy about his brother who suffered traumatic brain injuries after a JV football game. Her handling of this topic and a book for this audience is just as sure as her handling of previous topics for older readers. Using her accessible novel in verse approach, Hopkins relies on twelve-year-old Trace Reynolds who lives in Las Vegas to tell the story, which shows just how much impact a sibling's health and addiction can have on the rest of the family. In fact, the book could just as easily have been entitled "What about Trace?" since he's often overlooked due to distracted or absent parents, and his wellbeing and accomplishments have fallen by the wayside. It isn't as though his parents, who are divorced, don't care, but his father works several hours, relies on Will, Trace's 17-year-old brother, to serve as surrogate parent when he's gone. Plus, he has a new romantic attachment. The boys' mother is off on road trips, pursuing her musical ambitions as headliner in a band. Perhaps both parents are in denial or don't understand what's happening in the Reynolds home. Trace describes his brother's erratic behavior, his moodiness, his isolation, and the small thefts at home, first, this savings, then a cherished autographed baseball glove, and readers can see that Will is in deep trouble. He often forgets to pick up Trace and sneaks out of the house. Trace is a good kid, in the gifted and talented program at school, a solid baseball pitcher, and as reliable as they come. But his accomplishments aren't really acknowledged, and he himself becomes distracted due to his concerns about Will and his inclination to hide what he's seeing in order to protect his brother. One of the best examples of this preoccupation about Will is on pages 184-185 in the poem "Her Words Sink In" as Hopkins inserts the word "pedal" running down in a column in between Will's thoughts about his brother in an adjacent column. There isn't a single misstep in this novel in verse about two brothers, once close, who now couldn't be further apart, and Trace's determination to bring his brother back home to himself. But as anyone in similar shoes knows, recovery is not up to those around the addict. A nifty subplot with Cat, a talented female baseball player, whose own brother is on a similar path, adds depth to the story. This one will be a hit with its readers, and I have to say that I loved the cover with the two boys sitting back to back in their rooms, a wall separating them, and one in the light while one is in the shadows.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    Twelve-year-old Trace’s world changes when his older brother Will is injured in a high school football accidental collision with another player. Luckily, he was not paralyzed, “But his brain had volleyed Between the sides of his skull So hard it was swollen.” (14) Will is left with rages, headaches, and a “wrecked” facial nerve leaving him with no expression except for a facial tick. Their mother blames their father for letting Will play football and their already-fragile marriage dissolves when she Twelve-year-old Trace’s world changes when his older brother Will is injured in a high school football accidental collision with another player. Luckily, he was not paralyzed, “But his brain had volleyed Between the sides of his skull So hard it was swollen.” (14) Will is left with rages, headaches, and a “wrecked” facial nerve leaving him with no expression except for a facial tick. Their mother blames their father for letting Will play football and their already-fragile marriage dissolves when she leaves for a permanent tour with her band. “When you’re scared, blame comes easy.” (13) Will changes, dumping his loyal girlfriend and hanging out with new friends—a seemingly bad crowd who he sneaks out to join at all hours, and Trace is left without the big brother he remembers. “Probably what I miss most of all, though, is having a big brother to talk to. Some things you can’t tell just anyone. “(18) Luckily Trace has Bram, his best friend, and a new friend, Cat, the newest member and only girl (and maybe best player) on Trace’s Little League team and his new partner in the Gifted program at school. Cat has a troubled older brother and empathizes with Trace. When Cat’s father, the famous baseball player Victor Sanchez, signs Trace’s glove, Will steals and pawns it. In fact, Will has stolen all of Trace’s saved money, and Trace becomes suspicious of Will’s “activities” but is hesitant to bother his father who works hard and has a new girlfriend. Also “I keep thinking if I keep his secrets don’t tell Dad don’t bother Mom he’ll trust me enough to tell me why he hardly ever leaves his room, and where he goes when he ducks out the door the minute Dad’s back is turned. I miss the original Will.” (25) As things become worse, trace realizes, “I need someone here for me…” I feel like a kite Come loose from its string And its tail tangled up In a very tall tree. No way to rescue it Unless a perfect w Wisp of wind Plucks it just right, sets it free.” (333) When Will overdoses (mistake? suicide attempt?), everyone—Dad, Lily, Mom, Mom’s boyfriend, their neighbor, Cat, and Bram—comes together and support not only Will but Trace. Reading straight through in two days, What about Will has become my favorite Ellen Hopkins’ verse novel with cherished characters. The story tackles hard topic in an appropriate way for middle-school readers and belongs in all classroom and school libraries.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sally Kruger

    Trace will never forget the day his older brother Will was injured on the football field. The TBI (traumatic brain injury) Will suffered left him with a facial tic, horrible headaches, depression, and a personality change. Now their parents are divorced and Trace's mom is constantly on the road with her music career while his father is busy at his Las Vegas casino job. That leaves twelve-year-old Trace to fend for himself most of the time. Trace remembers Will as the older brother who let him han Trace will never forget the day his older brother Will was injured on the football field. The TBI (traumatic brain injury) Will suffered left him with a facial tic, horrible headaches, depression, and a personality change. Now their parents are divorced and Trace's mom is constantly on the road with her music career while his father is busy at his Las Vegas casino job. That leaves twelve-year-old Trace to fend for himself most of the time. Trace remembers Will as the older brother who let him hang out even though he was five years older. Will was never too busy to answer Trace's questions or help him with whatever he needed. Now between fits of rage and bouts of depression, Will doesn't want to spent time with family at all. Trace knows he can no longer depend on Will to drive him to school, pick him up from baseball practice, or be there when he gets home at the end of the day. He has noticed Will has a new set of "friends" who look pretty shady. Meanwhile life goes on. Trace goes to school, plays baseball, and does chores for the elderly man next door. A new girl named Cat begins playing on Trace's baseball team, and he discovers she's not only a great player but also a potential new friend. Learning that her dad is the famous player Alex Sanchez is cool, too. He even signs Trace's baseball glove and offers Trace rides home when Will doesn't show up. Things come to a head for Trace when his formerly loving and supportive brother begins stealing from him. First it's money from Trace's hard earned savings and then it's the autographed mitt. Trace feels dismissed when he tries to tell his father about his concerns. Calls to his mother on tour with her band don't seem to make a difference either. Meanwhile, Trace watches as his brother spirals toward a frightening cliff. Author Ellen Hopkins has written her second middle grade novel in verse. Her take on a family coping with depression and addiction is spot on. Viewed through the eyes of young Trace, readers will see an innocence and fear that is present in too many young lives today. WHAT ABOUT WILL is sure to resonant with middle grade readers dealing with similar issues or readers looking to understand someone is.

  24. 4 out of 5

    TheNextGenLibrarian

    Trace Reynolds wants to play baseball and go on vacations and hang out with friends, but…what about Will? 🧠 It’s been sixteen months since Will had a football injury that caused him brain damage, continuous headaches and a facial tic that causes his face not to be able to smile. Will used to be Trace’s big brother that he looked up to and now Trace spends most of his time worrying about the friends Will is hanging out with, his skipping school and angry shouting matches between him and their dad. Trace Reynolds wants to play baseball and go on vacations and hang out with friends, but…what about Will? 🧠 It’s been sixteen months since Will had a football injury that caused him brain damage, continuous headaches and a facial tic that causes his face not to be able to smile. Will used to be Trace’s big brother that he looked up to and now Trace spends most of his time worrying about the friends Will is hanging out with, his skipping school and angry shouting matches between him and their dad. Trace worries about Will, but also about his parents and their divorce, as well as his spot as pitcher on the baseball team when a female player joins too. How much can a twelve year old take? 🧠 Poor Trace. I must have thought that a million times while reading this novel in verse. I have such respect and admiration for this character who kept so much inside, all while trying his very best in everything everyday. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of books about siblings who have a brother or sister or parent suffering from either mental health issues or substance abuse or both. By reading their points of view we are able to see what addiction and untreated mental illness does to the people in their lives, not just those affected. We often forget those on the peripheral when addiction can loom so large in life. Make sure to read the Author’s Note at the back. This book is out now. CW: drug abuse, brain damage, suicide attempt, addiction

  25. 4 out of 5

    Larissa Hesse

    4.5⭐ I finished this book in one sitting and I regret nothing. This books is about Trace whose older brother Will suffered a TBI as a result of sports related injuries. Both their lives got turned upside down not only by that, but also because their parents got divorced and their whole family dynamic changed. The only question anyone ever seems to ask is 'What about Will?' (view spoiler)[ First of all: I LOVED that the new partners of Dad/Mom/Grandpa are not antagonized in any way. They are an addi 4.5⭐ I finished this book in one sitting and I regret nothing. This books is about Trace whose older brother Will suffered a TBI as a result of sports related injuries. Both their lives got turned upside down not only by that, but also because their parents got divorced and their whole family dynamic changed. The only question anyone ever seems to ask is 'What about Will?' (view spoiler)[ First of all: I LOVED that the new partners of Dad/Mom/Grandpa are not antagonized in any way. They are an addition to the family that everyone has to get to know first, but their are accepted as such and this is a very important message! Actually, this is one of me biggest pet peeves in MG/YA books since new partners are most of the time made out to be the bad guy. My parents are divorced and yes, it took some time to get used to the idea of new partners, but by the time I was old enough to understand what being in a relationship means I was okay with my parents moving on - and thats not just me being me. I predicted he climax of the book, Wills overdose/ suicide attempt, very early on, but nevertheless enjoyed reading it. I would have prefered the climax to be something about Trace, maybe Will losing his temper again like in the beginning, but overall it seem fitting. (hide spoiler)] I've ordered 'Closer to Nowhere' now that I've gotten back into Hopkins writing and very much enjoyed it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Caitie

    I liked this one, it deals with tough topics but in a way that middle grade readers will understand. Trace's brother Will had a football injury--a hard hit with another player--and now has a temper and an apparent drug problem. Trace has always looked up to his older brother, and now doesn't know what to think. His dad is busy at work and his mother has gone off with her band on a cross country tour. I connected with Trace, even though he was a young kid (he's about twelve), his confusion about I liked this one, it deals with tough topics but in a way that middle grade readers will understand. Trace's brother Will had a football injury--a hard hit with another player--and now has a temper and an apparent drug problem. Trace has always looked up to his older brother, and now doesn't know what to think. His dad is busy at work and his mother has gone off with her band on a cross country tour. I connected with Trace, even though he was a young kid (he's about twelve), his confusion about his brother leaped off the page. I can also understand what Trace and Will's dad must've been going through, not wanting to believe that your kid is having problems and just passing off as normal teenage behavior. Yes, at times this was a little bit cheesy, but but overall the message is an important one.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mrs Heidrich

    Thanks to Edelweiss for the DRC. 4.5 rounded up to 5 What a powerful and emotional story in verse about 12 year old Trace, his brother Will and their family. This is about the relationship between the brothers and what happens to that relationship when Will has a TBI and there are very real consequences to that. As a result, Will makes some choices that strain his family bonds and Trace is left in a tough position. There are so many wonderful moments in this story and the supporting characters are Thanks to Edelweiss for the DRC. 4.5 rounded up to 5 What a powerful and emotional story in verse about 12 year old Trace, his brother Will and their family. This is about the relationship between the brothers and what happens to that relationship when Will has a TBI and there are very real consequences to that. As a result, Will makes some choices that strain his family bonds and Trace is left in a tough position. There are so many wonderful moments in this story and the supporting characters are amazing. There are also many very tough moments that both of the boys and their family have to work through. A recommended heartfelt and emotional story that kids need to read - and adults too!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ami Schroder

    The author gives us a story from the point of view of 12 year old, Little League playing Trace. Trace’s brother has suffered a brain injury in a football game. We can feel how much Trace misses the brother he had but still loves the brother he now has. This is a story about opioid addiction and divorce and families. It rings true up until the end. Will’s comments/speech to his younger brother at the end of the book don’t sound authentic to the voice of the 17 year old we’ve been listening to thro The author gives us a story from the point of view of 12 year old, Little League playing Trace. Trace’s brother has suffered a brain injury in a football game. We can feel how much Trace misses the brother he had but still loves the brother he now has. This is a story about opioid addiction and divorce and families. It rings true up until the end. Will’s comments/speech to his younger brother at the end of the book don’t sound authentic to the voice of the 17 year old we’ve been listening to throughout the book. He sounds like an adult or a therapist with this sudden burst of wisdom. Other than that, it’s a great story about opioid addiction that works for upper elementary (no curse words, no sex) and middle school.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marissa D. Williams

    If Hopkins writes it, I’m reading it. I’ve been reading ALL of her work since discovering her my freshman year of high school. As with her other works, this book does not disappoint and it’s very prevalent to what kids are dealing with today, what they’ve always dealt with. Trace even awakened some feelings I’ve had and felt about my eldest brother growing up that I didn’t know how to process or deal with. I’m in my twenties now but I wish I had this book to help steer me when I found myself in If Hopkins writes it, I’m reading it. I’ve been reading ALL of her work since discovering her my freshman year of high school. As with her other works, this book does not disappoint and it’s very prevalent to what kids are dealing with today, what they’ve always dealt with. Trace even awakened some feelings I’ve had and felt about my eldest brother growing up that I didn’t know how to process or deal with. I’m in my twenties now but I wish I had this book to help steer me when I found myself in a similar situations like Trace of not knowing what to do as I watched my big brother, 13 years my senior, someone I looked up to spiral and completely change into someone unrecognizable today from addiction.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katie Reilley

    Thank you to the author and publisher for sharing early copy with #bookexpedition. This middle grade novel in verse explores the raw emotions of a family whose lives are in a constant state of change since “the incident.” Trace has always looked up to his older brother, Will. But when Will is knocked unconscious at a football game and suffers a brain injury, everything changes. Will, suffering from depression and an addiction to pain medication, becomes more and more withdrawn, leaving Trace wit Thank you to the author and publisher for sharing early copy with #bookexpedition. This middle grade novel in verse explores the raw emotions of a family whose lives are in a constant state of change since “the incident.” Trace has always looked up to his older brother, Will. But when Will is knocked unconscious at a football game and suffers a brain injury, everything changes. Will, suffering from depression and an addiction to pain medication, becomes more and more withdrawn, leaving Trace with a brother he doesn’t recognize. A heartbreakingly realistic story with themes of family, loss, hope, and understanding. Publishes 9/14/21.

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