Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald

Synopsis: J.D. (John Dennis) has a little brain. His brother Tom however has a great brain. From one chapter to the next we watch as Tom uses his great brain to save lives, help the disabled and welcome oppressed immigrants in the great state of Utah before the turn of the century. Oh, and he turns a profit every time. J.D. is thoroughly impressed as the brother he idolizes moves from one success to another, but as the list of Tom's genius ideas builds, and his profits accumulate, J.D. will learn whether or not Tom's moral limits will ever be reached.

Opinion: OK, so I like this book for one huge reason. It is the smart subtle comedy that is strewn throughout the pages that is the gem here. Yes, Tom is a pretty smart kid, but J.D., his little brother, is pretty smart himself. And yet Tom always brings him around to his way of thinking with a combination of faulty logic, undeserved guilt, and mild threats. It is cleverly done and deserves the success it has seen since its first copyright date in 1969. Mixed into the comic exchanges where Tom is jockeying for money and power is the background conflict between the dominant religion in the area at the time, Mormonism, and everything else. We see humanity on both sides of the religious line as each group makes moral errors, and the book closes that loop by demonstrating how everyone can coexist as well. I highly recommend this one for all to read, but it is a must-read for any child growing up in a religious environment without a lot of diversity. It teaches tolerance and understanding, as well as moral values, in an entertaining way.

Date Completed: April 9, 2008
Rating (1-5): 3.7