"The writing, which at first seems straightforward...becomes increasingly layered as it dispenses its information, gradually and ever more movingly...This is a strong debut, and Wilson shows admirable control of a complicated story that in less-accomplished hands could have spun out of control. The structure literally allows readers to see both sides."
—Booklist (starred review)
"Bold...Wilson's debut novel fulfills its young-adult literature duty in terms of uplifting messages, but I think it fulfills a deeper duty to teen readers. Alex's and James' stories are much more relevant to the high school experience than the typical teen read...It's definitely required reading for those awkward 16-year-olds...who just don't fit in and can't imagine making it out of their small towns alive."
—The Austin Chronicle
"Captivating...Teens lucky enough to find it in the library...will tune in to the perfect pitch of its adolescent voice."
—Richard Labonte, Bookmarks
"In his beautifully realized first novel, Martin Wilson demonstrates a wonderful gift for finding the truth in human caring and for creating memorably multidimensional and engagingly sympathetic characters whom readers will welcome into their hearts."
—Michael Cart, former president of
the ALA's Young Adult Library Services Association and the Assembly on
Literature for Adolescents
"Set in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Wilson's searching debut maintains a level of
urgency as it explores the bonds between two brothers...Well-observed
details shore up the Southern backdrop, important for the social networks
that bind the characters and inform their actions. Insightfully evoked,
Alex, James and their friends will leave a lasting impression on readers."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Martin Wilson's What They Always Tell Us
hears the voices of the young as they struggle toward adulthood..."
Newbery Award–winning author
"Smoothly written and psychologically astute, this story eloquently charts
the cross-currents between social status, loyalty and brotherly love."
"An evocative, sensitively told tale of two brothers from Alabama...Wilson's
debut is a winner."
"Martin Wilson has not only captured the fragility, the fearfulness and
bravado of adolescence, but also his characters' generosity, compassion, and
—Mark Spragg, author of An Unfinished Life
"This is a refined and sensitive account of two brothers in the midst of
figuring out who they've been and who they want to be."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Martin Wilson's riveting debut novel offers a complex exploration of sibling bonds."
"Given Wilson's sharp eye for high school reality, the true feat in his debut novel is that he crafts a strikingly fresh story from that well worn terrain, finding the exceptional lurking in the shadows of the everyday. . . . Wilson's prose is straightforward but powerful, so void of melodrama and over-reaching that its beauty sneaks up on you. . . . But most importantly, perhaps, Wilson offers pitch perfect characters."
—Black Warrior Review