Synopsis (from www.bn.com)
Lafayette would do anything to have things back the way they used to be—back before their parents died and back before his brother Charlie changed so much. But things have changed and all he can do now is ask why…. Why did Mama have to die? Why does Charlie hate him so much? And how are the three brothers—Miracle’s boys—supposed to survive when so much seems to be stacked against them?
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-A compelling novel about three streetwise New York City brothers trying to help one another confront their personal demons. Thirteen-year-old Lafayette still grieves for his mother, who died of diabetes two years earlier. He blames himself for not being able to save her. Older brother Ty’ree is more mature and responsible but he, too, is tormented by the past. He witnessed his father rescue a drowning woman and later die of hypothermia before Lafayette was born, and he continues to feel guilty for not being able to help him. Lafayette and Ty’ree take comfort in school, work, and other routines of daily life to keep their lives focused and their minds off the past. All of this changes, however, when a middle brother named Charlie returns from a juvenile-detention facility where he served a three-year sentence for an armed robbery. Having this angry, sometimes hostile presence in their lives forces Lafayette and Ty’ree to depend upon one another even more to work through their grief and figure out how to help Charlie survive. As usual, Woodson’s characterizations and dialogue are right on. The dynamics among the brothers are beautifully rendered. The narrative is told through dialogue and Lafayette’s introspections so there is not a lot of action, but readers should find this story of tough, self-sufficient young men to be powerful and engaging.-Edward Sullivan, New York Public Library Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Vocabulary/Language for Miracle’s Boys
- page 4 – St. Francis of Assisi
- page 6 – Somebody had done that to Charlie: Scooped out his heart and sent the empty bitter rind of him on home.
- page 6 – I felt the coldness, like somebody was dripping ice water down my back.
- page 9 – stereotype – “Not all Chinese people know karate,” he said. “That’s a stereotype.”
- page 11 slipper spoon, page 14 – shoe horn
- page 13 – beam me up
- page 15 – Milagro killer, page 18-19 Milagro was my mama. Her name means “miracle” in Spanish.
- page 17 – hypothermia
- page 19 – Bayamon, Puerto Rico
- page 27 – Our house was full of stuff we didn’t need to talk about.
- page 40 – Newcharlie (how he got this nickname)
- page 43 – MIT
- page 46 – It smelled like the way she laughed. Tinkly. It smelled like the memories of her
- page 58 – “Didn’t make it” is a stupid way to say something died.
- page 74 – electrified
- page 81 – a monkey on their back
- page 82 – evil incarnate
- page 104 – He looked… broken.
- page 126 – El Coqui
- page 128 – Yesterday was a long time ago.
- page 129 – Sometimes I feel like our life is one big work of art – it’s everything. And nothing.