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Blood Brothers


By Rob Sanders

Reycraft Books

July 31, 2022

ISBN-10: 1478869275

ISBN-13: 978-1478869276

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Awards & Recognitions:

  • NCTE Notable Novel in Verse, 2023

  • Junior Library Guild Selection



An emotional portrayal of illness, discrimination, and personal growth. The verse format and accessible voice will hold appeal for reluctant readers; the presentation of the subject matter will draw in those who appreciate relationship-driven contemporary and historical stories. Heartbreaking yet hopeful. —Kirkus

What people are saying:

"Overflowing with sadness and hope, Sanders has written a celebration of poetry and family that is also a portrait of America as we were (and still are). An important book to share and discuss with middle-grade readers: a lightening bolt to the heart." 

— E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars


"This startling, moving, powerhouse of a verse novel should be read by every middle grader and YA reader in the US, actually in the world. It doesn't simply play on the heartstrings but is a full orchestral rendition of a human story that needs telling and retelling to bring us all back into our humanity."

--Jane Yolen, author of Owl Moon and The Devil’s Arithmetic.


"With a poet’s ear, Rob Sanders evokes the emotional tenor of a brotherly saga set during the fear-filled first decade of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In recreated voices, the hemophiliac Johnston brothers bear witness to the injustice and violence that compounded their suffering. Hard-hitting and heart-rending!"

—Carole Boston Weatherford, Coretta Scott King Award-winning author of Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre


"Blood Brothers is an astonishing book. A beautiful book. A necessary book. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down. This gorgeously written novel-in-verse shows us the devastating consequences of hate, but more importantly, it teaches us the infinite power of love. The three “blood brothers” Charlie, Curtis, and Calvin have wedged themselves into my heart where they will live forever. This book has the power to change hearts, minds, and lives. I loved every word of it."

— Lesléa Newman, author of October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard 


"Blood Brothers captivated me from the very first sentence, "Charlie is the best at dying." This book will break your heart in all the right places and leave you a more compassionate human being."

— Shannon Hitchcock, author of Flying Over Water and One True Way



Calvin Johnston’s secret is out. He and his brothers are tainted. Untouchable. And the bad blood flowing through their veins is threatening to kill them. So are some of their neighbors in Ashland, the "Friendliest Little Town" in Florida. The Johnston brothers are kicked out of everything―school, baseball, scouts, even church. Ashland’s anger has erupted into a fireball of hate. The only silver lining is that Calvin’s best friend Izzy lives 65 miles away at the beach and has no idea about his secret. But news—just like HIV—has a way of spreading. 


Calvin and his brothers are in the fight of their lives. As a matter of fact, they’re fighting for life itself. Told in raw, honest verse, this is a timeless story, because at its core, BLOOD BROTHERS is a fight against prejudice where Calvin is trying to make sense of the senseless in the only way a twelve-year-old boy can. With hope.

Blood Brothers: Teaching Guide HERE

Blood Brothers - Interior Spread
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