Seventh-grader Isabelle Perez and her older brother Julian love spending hours together, playing maracas or working on her wind-harnessing project for the school science fair. Sure, Julian (who has an extreme type of epilepsy) might not be able to do all the things which other kids can, but he’s still the best brother ever. When one morning Julian has an enormous seizure and is rushed to the hospital, Isabelle is afraid that he’ll never be the same.
The night that Julian comes back from the hospital, he and Isabelle are transported to Las Brisas, a magical place where Julian doesn’t have epilepsy. Every night after that, the two of them go to Las Brisas, where Julian can talk, run, swim, and more. As Isabelle gets to know him in a whole new way, she begins to truly understand his struggles at home—and his incredible hope, determination, and love for her and her parents.
Back in the real world, Julian is slowly adjusting to his new seizure medicine, and seems more and more distant. Isabelle’s parents are struggling to figure out what’s best for him, and Isabelle wonders if things will ever go back to the way they used to be. In the midst of seemingly endless worries, Isabelle will need all of the courage which Julian gives her to find her voice—and help Julian discover his, too.
I had gotten multiple recommendations to read What the Wind Can Tell You, and I’m really glad I did. Isabelle’s journey explores what it’s like to have a disability, the struggles of growing up, and what it means to be a family. Isabelle and Julian are both strong protagonists and relatable siblings, and I loved their relationship. The story is relatively simple, yet beautifully told, and I wholeheartedly enjoyed it—it’s an excellent pick for book groups and discussions, or for any readers ages 9+ looking for an inspiring, moving, lyrical story.