My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I typically don't care for books set in Hollywood. The Brave, however, proves to be an exception. It is set in the west, both in the desert and in LA, and Evans provides just enough detail to "put the reader there" without delving into flowing, poetic descriptions of the landscape (which, often feel, detract from any compelling movement a book may have).
The settings in this novel create the tone, but the characters are who drive it. Contrasting the Tommy growing up as a younger brother, a son, and a victim with the grown-up Tom who has become a writer, a divorcee, and a dad was a stroke of brilliance on Evans' part. It allows him to tell two separate yet related stories simultaneously, while keeping the reader engaged in each. We care about Tommy, and we care about Tom, and we continue to read to find out how one develops and why the other has become who he is.
The Brave is a masterful story that speculates on how the roles of father, brother, and son can all converge in one person, and what makes a boy into a man.