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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
In Barry’s Brain by Réal Carpentier, Barry Kay is a 13-year-old who often gets teased and bullied at school for his big head and his deformed ear, earning him the name Brick the Prick. Life at home isn't good either. His mom, Leeza, is a promiscuous woman who flirts and sleeps with guys at the bar where she works. Her boyfriend Turk is a drunk who makes Barry's life hell－a man his mom keeps around for his disability checks. One day, alone at home, Barry decides to get some fresh air and climb a tree nearby. When he falls and hits his head, he gains an ability to read people's minds. Shocked and hesitant at first, he gradually uses this ability to get even with everyone who makes his life miserable.
The mind is the most powerful tool that humans possess and for young protagonist Barry, his 'changed' brain is a blessing. There was no instant pity from me; I wanted to see how this abused teen would use his ability. I kept wondering if Barry was going to lose himself with this new ‘power’. It's interesting how he contemplates between ethics and personal gain when he has full control of his unexpected gift. Whether readers would find his actions justifiable or not, they are undeniably powerful and frightening. One will question young Barry's capacity for evil. How far will he go to teach his tormentors a lesson? Imagine young X-Men Charles Xavier on a revenge mission. I like the way Réal Carpentier connects every character through a series of events, and how Barry's benevolent Aunt Tara is finally able to meet up with him. Her life as a psychic, including her relationship with her assistant and love interest, George, provides breathing space for this psychological thriller. Barry’s Brain is a captivating read from Carpentier.