Charlie O’Reilly is an only child. Which is why it makes everyone uncomfortable when he talks about his brother.

The first line of the book blurb on the back cover of Rebecca K.S. Ansari’s debut novel, THE MISSING PIECE OF CHARLIE O’REILLY, had me intrigued before I even read the first page. Notions of what this book would be and how can an only child have a brother swirled around in my head. I had no idea of what I had in store.

Ansar’s contemporary fantasy disguises itself as a typical mystery where a kid and his friend attempt to find answers and solve their problem. As I fell deeper into the story’s spell, I realized it is a cathartic exercise in forgiveness.

Don’t worry, this is not a huge spoiler since the back cover mentions the “power of forgiveness.” Even knowing this, I was taken by the way Charlie discovers this “power” and the impact it can have on our lives if we learn from his journey.

I found myself staying up late as Ansari peels back the layers of the mystery of what happened to Charlie’s brother and why was he the only one who remembered his brother existed. As I turned the final page, I felt completely satisfied, like a good meal that you had the perfect amount to fill yourself without overdoing it.

Due to the subject matter of depression, pain (physical and emotional), and loss, I would recommend this for a more mature middle grade reader and higher. This is a title you need to add to your reading list!

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