brother. do. you. love. me.

brother. do. you. love. me. is a dazzling story of hope, resilience and repair for our troubled times. Combining Manni’s tender words with Reuben’s powerful illustrations, the book explores how far we’re capable of going for those we love, and asks how, individually and collectively, we can all take better care of each other.

Manni Coe has written a compelling story about his brother, Reuben, and their extraordinary journey of resilience and repair.

brother. do. you. love. me.

brother. do. you. love. me. is a dazzling story of hope, resilience and repair for our troubled times. Combining Manni’s tender words with Reuben’s powerful illustrations, the book explores how far we’re capable of going for those we love, and asks how, individually and collectively, we can all take better care of each other.

Manni Coe has written a compelling story about his brother, Reuben, and their extraordinary journey of resilience and repair.

Synopsis

Reuben was living in a home providing care for adults with learning disabilities. For over a year, he had been non-verbal, unable to express his thoughts and feelings except on paper with felt-tip pens. He was deeply depressed and spent his days in a fog of anti-depressants.

Aged 38, he still hadn’t established an independent life and was struggling with the physical reality of having Down’s syndrome. Increasingly isolated, cut off from everyone and everything he loved, Reuben sent his older brother a desperate text message: ‘brother. do. you. love. me.’

Immediately, Manni left his home in Spain, took Reuben out of care and moved them both into a cottage in the countryside. In the stillness of winter, they began a simple routine of walking, inching a little further each day, from the drive to the village, finally to the woods and fields. In the evenings, Reuben would draw colourful images of his favourite characters from films and books with his felt-tip pens.

As the months moved to spring, on a journey of pain and frustration, revelation and joy, Reuben and Manni discovered it is never too late to rebuild the bonds of brotherhood.

Personal note from the author

Quote from The Bookseller, Author interview by Caroline Sanderson, 29th July 2022:

brother.do.you.love.me. has an extraordinary emotional immediacy, born of the fact that once Manni began writing it, the book became a compulsion. “I’ve always written for pleasure, including poetry, and there’s always a novel in a box at home in Spain. But I just knew that this story was one that had to be written. I started the book in February, eight weeks after rescuing Reuben, and before long I was writing about events in real time, sometimes for eight to 10 hours a day.” As the written narrative took shape, Reuben’s drawings began to tell a parallel story of brotherly love and healing. “Reuben still wasn’t talking at all,” remembers Manni. “But every single night he would do a drawing; give me a kiss and then hand it to me upside down.” Those captioned illustrations began to dictate the narrative, because, as Manni puts it, they “net Reuben’s emotions so effectively”. (...)

"What you need to understand is that Reuben lives in a grey area somewhere between reality and fantasy; where everything becomes a song, or a film, or a reference to a musical. When you’re with him, you inhabit that space too”.

Part of the emotional power of brother.do.you.love.me. is that it transports the reader into this magical space. And that is Reuben’s gift. While this is a book about how we take care of each other in any context, it also has something profound to communicate about those made vulnerable by society’s tendency to view such gifts as limitations. In answer to my question about what he’d like us to remember after reading his book, Reuben, a man with the heart and courage of the lions he so loves to draw, writes: “Help people”. 

brother. do. you. love. me.
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Original Language: English (UK)
Original Publisher: Little Toller Books
Published: October, 2022
312 pages
Category: Adult Non-Fiction
Film Rights: Little Toller
Theatre Rights: Little Toller
Available material: Original English edition

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