A Stranger to My Brothers by Henye Meyer

A well-researched historical coming-of-age novel, A Stranger to My Brothers is a standout book for teens that will appeal just as much to adults.

Stranger to My BrothersAt first glance, author Henye Meyer’s journey through early early Medieval times is a gripping tale of swashbuckling adventure.

The plot has enough drama to keep readers on the edge of their seats, flipping pages late into the night.

But there is far more to this novel.

The details of every day life 11th-century England, a time when paganism still smoldered and Christianity was just taking over, offer a window into a world we rarely get to see.

Martin is an orphaned teen and we get to travel with him through Europe, join the crusades, live through pogroms, walk through Hungary and explore Constantinople in all its Byzantine glory.

Martin’s dream to join the Byzantine emperor’s Varangians guard will introduce readers to groups and events that many history books have left out.

Through myriad little touches – the feel of different grades of woven fabrics, the balance of a well-made sword – Mrs. Meyer brings to life the world our ancestors inhabited.

There is more graphic violence in this book than most frum readers may be used to. Pogroms are violent and Mrs. Meyer doesn’t pretend they are not.

Frightening challenges abound, but the pleasures and human relationships that are not so different from ours today are all there, too.

The latter is where this novel really shines. Its realistic portrayal of an angry teenager is honest and fresh. Martin is an honestly portrayed abused, angry young boy.

He doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder, he’s got a giant boulder. He’s selfish and callous one moment – and then heroically self-sacrificing the next. He’s rude, obnoxious and at times engages in deeply inappropriate behavior.

In other words, he’s a believable peasant teenager who grew up barely knowing he was Jewish. Despite that, Mrs. Meyer manages to make us love him and keep rooting for him, which is in itself really something!

What happens when he meets another Jew is not at all what one expects. The characters around him don’t fit stereotypes – the helping hands most often come from the least likely people. This is no smooth slide into a frum life with an easy happy ever after. Martin’s a tough kid and there are wrenching decisions, disastrous falls and many heartbreaks before he grows into a man and chooses his path.

There are also lots of unexpected flashes of humor and some complex other characters along the way.

Original, exciting, honest and real. Highly recommended for teens over 13 and adults.

A Stranger to My Brothers was previously published as Fall of the Sun God.

Self-published. (See our FAQ on self-published books.)

We received a review copy of this book.

Mrs. Henye Meyer is also the author of:

This Is America

This is America!

(Israel Bookshop Publications)

 

 

crocodile island

The Exiles of Crocodile Island

(ArtScroll Youth)

 

 


adrenaline rush

the humorous thriller, Adrenalin Rush (Menucha Publishers).

 

 

 

Starlight by Henye MeyerStarlight (Menucha Publishers)

 

Starlight by Henye Meyer

Starlight is the new novel from Henye Meyer.

Starlight by Henye MeyerMrs. Meyer is one of those few authors whose range is so wide that each book is a completely different adventure from the others.

While in previous books, she’s taken us to ancient Byzantium (see our review of Stranger to My Brothers) and turn-of-the-century America, this time, we are in Victorian England.

Although the book is written for a much younger audience than the author’s previous novels, the drama never stops. The tale of a young orphan match girl abused by her relatives who have taken her in, then rescued by a wealthy family, and cast out on the street once more, Starlight could have had all the makings of a cardboard cut-out stereotypical story. But in the skillful hands of Mrs. Meyer, it turns into a beautiful – and suspenseful – fairytale.

The author is known for the meticulously researched details of her characters’ time and place that really bring the story to life. It was fascinating to meet Baron Rothschild as a character and learn more about his travels to Eretz Yisrael from a contemporary point of view.

You can almost feel the author’s tongue-in-cheek approach as the Victorian melodrama plays out to its dénouement. Discerning adult readers will probably be smiling, but the story is heartwarming and preteen girls will love it. To be honest – so did I. It was a great read!

Published by Menucha.

We received a review copy of this book.

Purchase now from Menucha.

Mrs. Meyer is also the author of:

crocodile islandThe Exiles of Crocodile Island (ArtScroll Youth)

 

 

 

 

 

This Is AmericaThis is America! (Israel Bookshop Publications)

 

 

 

 

 

adrenaline rushAdrenalin Rush (Menucha Publishers).

 

 

 

 

Stranger to My Brothers

A Stranger to My Brothers (Self Published) and reviewed by us here.