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Publisher's Summary

From number one New York Times best-selling author Ellen Hopkins 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, 17 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 But when the brother he loves so much becomes more and more withdrawn, and escalates to stealing money and ditching school, Trace realizes some secrets cannot be kept if we ever hope to heal.

©2021 Ellen Hopkins (P)2021 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

A 2022-2023 Great Lakes Great Books Nominee (MI)
A 2022 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year
A 2022 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Pick

“Hopkins’s heartrending novel in verse evocatively conveys Trace’s attempts to call attention to Will’s dangerous behavior and his yearning to “fix” his broken family. Standout supporting characters include Mr. Cobb, Trace’s Vietnam veteran neighbor, and Catalina, a new girl on his baseball team. . . the verse format suits Trace’s first-person narrative; its brevity cuts to the heart of Trace’s raw feelings of isolation and powerlessness. . .  A realistic, emotionally charged portrait of a family divided and their fragile steps toward a shared future. Recommended for middle grade collections.”—School Library Journal, starred review 

In effective verse, Hopkins (Closer to Nowhere) tells an honest and moving portrait of a family in flux as they navigate newfound emotional and physical distance…Hopkins tenderly portrays a younger brother learning to advocate for himself and those he loves by speaking up and asking for help.” —Publishers Weekly

“Written in her recognizable free-verse style, Hopkins conveys the raw and realistic emotions of a broken family. The book covers multiple tough subjects . . . in a manner that is digestible for a younger audience. What about Will is a story about family, love, loss, hope, and understanding that you don’t have to go through hardships alone.” —Booklist

What listeners say about What About Will

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Relatable story from a friendly voice

I found the story to be a good young adult novel with a very relatable plot for anyone who has had to deal with mental health issues and drug use in their family. (In this day and age who doesn’t have some brush with that?) Wetherbee’s narration is clear, his voice is pleasant and he brings the main character to life with a steady and relaxing pace which I found easy to listen to.

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The narrator didn’t get it

I love Ellen Hopkins, so I was bummed I didn’t love this book. But the more I think about it, the more I think it’s because the narrator was “off” for me. I dont think he conveyed proper tone throughout the entirety of the book, and that caused it to not be nearly as good as it could have been.