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Brother's Keeper High Res Image.jpg

North Korea, 1950:

No travel without a permit.

No criticism of the government.

No absences from communist meetings.

Repeat slogans.

Don't trust your neighbors.

Don't speak your mind.

You are being watched.

  • 2020 Freeman Book Award Winner 

  • 2021 International Literacy Association Children's and Young Adults' Book Award Winner

  • 2020 Jane Addams Children's Book Award Finalist

  • 2021 ALA Notable Children's Book

  • Junior Library Guild Selection

  • 2021 ALA Rise Selection

  • 2021-2022 VA Reads Selection

  • 2020 Booklist Lasting Connections Selection

  • 2021 Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year - with Outstanding Merit

  • Kirkus Best Middle Grade Book of 2020

  • Kirkus 10 Top Middle-Grade Summer Read of 2020

  • Booklist Top 10 First Novels for Youth 2020

  • 4 Starred Reviews

"In its portrayal of hardship and survival, 'Brother's Keeper' joins a rich tradition of stories about children on wartime journeys"  - The Wall Street Journal

“Debut author Lee paints this gripping and emotional midwinter escape with the eye of a wartime journalist and the determined  heart of a young girl.”  - Kirkus Reviews, starred review 

"Through her journey, Sora transforms from a precocious girl into a courageous and intelligent hero. Lee captures Sora's internal journey alongside the physical one, and in the process details the struggles of a refugee from the ground level. . . . An amazing debut and an important book that explores a part of history few younger readers are taught in school." - Booklist, starred review

"A moving, suspenseful refugee story, based loosely on the author's mother's experiences, the book is at heart a poignant exploration of a girl's struggle against traditional female roles and her determination to succeed on her own terms." - Publishers Weekly, starred review

"With an artful and expressive narrative voice, and inspiration drawn from her mother's experiences in Korea as a young woman, debut novelist Lee enthralls and enlightens." - School Library Journal, starred review

"The narrative makes a painful reality of the deprivation that people faced when fleeing their homes . . . At its heart, Brother’s Keeper is about families and how they overcome hardship and loss. The Korean War and Korean culture act as a powerful setting for this work, and the strength and sorrow of Sora and Youngsoo are haunting." - Foreword Reviews

"Lee's Brother's Keeper is a compelling #OwnVoices middle-grade novel that is both edifying and inspiring...Overlapping historical accuracy with personal testimony, Lee presents a nuanced story of strength, tenacity and everlasting family bonds."  - Shelf Awareness


Trapped in an enemy tunnel, a young refugee experiences the Korean War firsthand in this story of survival, loss, and hope, a companion to the Freeman Award-winning novel Brother's Keeper.


  • A Book Riot Best New Book of 2023

  • A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

  • A Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices 2024 pick

  • A 2024 Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, Outstanding Merit

“A gripping story about family, war, mourning, and resilience told with emotion and heart.”  - Kirkus Reviews, starred review 

"Once again, Lee brings readers to the beginnings of the North Korean Communist regime. Myung-gi is an intriguing main character...This is an absolute must-read for those who have already read Brother's Keeper and a heart-wrenching meditation on family bonds and the responsibilities they entail." - Booklist, starred review

"Lee's vivid, visceral writing provides readers with an unflinching story of war and survival as well as an intimate look at everyday life for Koreans caught up in geo-political forces over which they have no control. Few books for young readers grapple with the Korean War from this perspective..." - The Horn Book

"A vivid, powerful title...The book vividly captures the disorientation and longing of a young man who finds himself cut off from his home, his family, and his dreams for the future." - School Library Journal

"A moving historical novel...Lee compassionately depicts the difficult journey and Myung-gi's grappling with finding normalcy in this well-paced story about an underreported war." - Publishers Weekly

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