Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 30 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush.
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Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush Summary & Study Guide Description

Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush by Virginia Hamilton.

Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush by Virginia Hamilton is a work of fiction. It takes place in the 1960s and 1970s in Midwestern United States. The story focuses on the Pratt family: Viola (M'Vy), Teresa (Tree) and Dabney. Tree is the head of the house as M'Vy is a practical nurse by trade. She claims that it is necessary to work away from home so that she can make enough money to support the house and the children.

The story begins with fourteen-year-old Sweet Teresa Pratt walking home from school. Teresa is nearly fifteen and is getting noticed by the boys on the corner. Some call out to Teresa, who they refer to as "Tree". Tree is embarrassed by the attention and clutches her books to hide her blossoming breasts. Tree is shy in the outside world, insecure and uncertain of her place. At home, Tree is in charge and has a great deal of responsibility. Tree takes care of her brother Dab as well as the house in general because her mother, M'Vy, comes home only one day a week.

Dabney (Dab) is a couple of years older than Tree. Dab has some type of unidentified mental issue. The exact cause is not identified but M'Vy tells people that Dab is mentally retarded. Despite Tree's help, the seventeen-year-old barely passes school. Their mother, Muh Vy, is happy to have her son stay off the streets. Tree and Dab have a special relationship.

Walking home from school one day, Tree spots a handsome man sitting on the steps. Tree is immediately entranced by the man, who is finely dressed and obviously out of his element. Over the next couple of weeks, Tree looks for the young man but sees him only occasionally.

At home, Tree tries to find ways to occupy her time when she is not taking care of the house or Dab. Tree is fascinated by a little room, no larger than a walk-in closet. The room is used for storing junk. One weekend, Tree and Dab decide to clean out the room so that Tree could have a private place of her own to draw. One afternoon Tree goes into the little room to find the young man, Brother Rush. Tree is stunned to see him yet is so excited that she does not speak. Then Tree realizes that the man is standing in the middle of the table, as if he is actually growing out of it. At that moment, Tree realizes that Brother Rush is a ghost.

Tree becomes interested in Brother Rush and why he never interacts with her or reacts to the surroundings. The mirror-like place in Brother Rush's hand is actually a portal to the past. Tree steps into the past on several occasions, learning deep and disturbing secrets about her family, including information about the father she never knew and the history of a dreaded blood disease that now affects Dab.

The story focuses on M'Vy's lack of attention to her children and the responsibilities she heaps on Tree's shoulders. M'Vy is self-serving, fearful, and filled with shame over her past abuse of Dab and the wish that he would die. Because of M'Vy's negligence, Dab does die. Tree blames M'Vy for all of her past mistakes. The family begins to fall apart and threatens to be shattered once and for all until Tree begins to realize that she can have a better life and hope for the future.

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