Brave Like That by Lindsey Stoddard

Find yourself. Find your place. Find your brave.

This uplifting tale, which award-winning author Leslie Connor dubbed “a perfectly paced journey of the heart” is perfect for fans of Lisa Graff and Lynda Mullaly Hunt. 

Cyrus Olson’s dad is a hero—Northfield’s former football star and now one of their finest firefighters. Everyone expects Cyrus to follow in his dad’s record-breaking footsteps, and he wishes they were right—except he’s never been brave like that. But this year, with the help of a stray dog, a few new friends, a little bit of rhythm, and a lot of nerve, he may just discover that actually…he is.

Cyrus has never been brave like his adoptive firefighter dad who couldn't let him go after the first time he held him in his arms. He's not brave enough to tell his dad that he doesn't like playing football now that there is tackling involved. He's not brave enough to stand up to his long-time friends bullying the new kid. He's not brave enough to show his true self who loves music more than he could ever love football, who can't read a whole book and tell you what happened, and who desperately wants to take home a stray dog named Parker. But what if he was?

Get ready to cry. 

It's easy for stories to make me cry if they try and this one got me good. I could easily identify myself with Cyrus never feeling brave enough to stand up for himself and not going after what he wanted. It's tough to do that in middle school. So when he eventually did it was a moving moment to see.

I obviously loved Cyrus. I loved that each chapter ended with a lyrical line about how he wasn't brave like that. Honestly, after the first chapter reading one of those lines I knew I was going to love this. Even though I hated band as a kid, it was obviously something Cyrus was passionate about. It was lovely seeing that bond between his grandmother and him regarding music. His grandma really knew him in his heart so I adored that relationship. I also loved his father who was brave like that and absolutely loved his son. The scenes in the fire station with the whole crew were the best. I wish there were more books set in fire stations or about firefighters. I'm on a hunt for them now.

Cyrus' new English teacher was amazing as well. He read picture books to his class every day and truly brought a love of reading to all the kids in his classroom. He was also one not to look away from bullying. The new kid received a lot of that bullying because he was deemed weird, scrawny, and loved books. The new kid and Cyrus' new teacher helped reveal the bravery he had always had inside him.

One thing that would have made this book better was the time span. I think it was only two weeks that had passed throughout this whole book or maybe even less. It didn't make it believable that Cyrus would change that fast and become basically instant friends with the new kid. Otherwise fantastic story and one that should be read in classrooms everywhere.