Brendan Kiely

"Most people don’t get second chances. 
I wasn’t sure I deserved one. 
I wasn’t sure I even wanted one."



Tradition by Brendan Kiely Simon & Schuster, 2018

by Brendan Kiely
Simon & Schuster, 2018


From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Brendan Kiely, a stunning new novel that explores the insidious nature of tradition at a prestigious boarding school.

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep school where history looms in the leafy branches over its brick walkways. But some traditions upheld in its hallowed halls are profoundly dangerous.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. She wants freedom, but ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends are determined to keep her in place.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us.

When Jamie and Jules meet, they recognize in each other a similar instinct for survival, but at a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks, athletes stack hockey pucks in dorm room windows like notches on a bedpost, and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and remain silent about the school’s secrets intensify, they see Fullbrook for what it really is. That tradition, a word Fullbrook hides behind, can be ugly, even violent. Ultimately, Jules and Jamie are faced with the difficult question: can they stand together against classmates—and an institution—who believe they can do no wrong?



“New York Times bestselling author Brendan Kiely is once again asking readers the examine tough issues in a meaningful way with Tradition, a compelling new novel about male privilege, consent, and finding the courage to do what is right.”

— Bustle


“Kiely bravely explores rape culture and how it intersects with class and privilege… readers will find themselves rooting for the world not as it is, but as it might yet be.” – Booklist


"A novel to discuss.”

— Publishers Weekly, starred review


"Powerful and necessary, Brendan Kiely bravely takes on class, privilege, and injustice in this layered, authentic story about friendship and finding the courage to stand up for what is right—Tradition is an important, timely book that will empower young men to rise up against misogyny and rape culture."  

— Amber Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used to Be


“Tradition is a stunning, timely, and deeply poignant novel about the culture of sexual violence. Sure to spark necessary conversations, this is 2018's must-read young adult novel.”

— Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces


"Brendan Kiely’s Tradition is a searing literary call-to-arms in the most powerful and just sense: it takes a sledgehammer to our rotten, dangerous, and deeply ingrained traditions, so that we can build something new and beautiful in their place."

— Jeff Zentner, author of the William C. Morris Award winning and Carnegie Medal longlisted The Serpent King and Goodbye Days



"A story that belongs in every library."

— School Library Journal, starred review


“This novel is a timely road map for those looking to find their places in this rapidly changing world… A thoughtfully crafted argument for feminism and allyship."

— Kirkus


“Tradition is a deeply felt, powerful, devastating and, ultimately, hopeful look at toxic rape culture and its destructive effects.” 

— Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star


"Tradition is a startling portrait of privilege and rape culture, but it is also ultimately a book about resistance and hope, the power of friendship to embolden our integrity, and the courage to do the right thing even when everyone else seems to be doing wrong."

— Amy Reed, author of The Nowhere Girls


"Tradition isn't so much a book as it is an invitation and a promise. An invitation to stand up for ourselves and for what's right, and a promise that if we stand, we won't do so alone.  Beautifully written with Brendan's wit and compassion, this book is a must read for all those hopeful for a better world."

— Shaun David Hutchinson, author of the Florida Book Awards' Gold Medal and ALA's 2015 Rainbow Book List novel, The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley.



"The point of living
is learning how to love."



The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely Simon & Schuster, 2016

The Last True Love Story
by Brendan Kiely
Simon & Schuster, 2016


The point of living is learning how to love.

That’s what Gpa says. To Hendrix and Corrina, both seventeen but otherwise alike only in their loneliness, that sounds like another line from a pop song that tries to promise kids that life doesn’t actually suck. Okay, so: love. Sure.

The thing about Corrina—her adoptive parents are suffocating, trying to mold her into someone acceptable, predictable, like them. She’s a musician, itching for any chance to escape, become the person she really wants to be. Whoever that is.

And Hendrix, he’s cool. Kind of a poet. But also kind of lost. His dad is dead and his mom is married to her job. Gpa is his only real family, but he’s fading fast from Alzheimer’s. Looking for any way to help the man who raised him, Hendrix has made Gpa an impossible promise—that he’ll get him back east to the hill where he first kissed his wife, before his illness wipes away all memory of her.

One hot July night, Hendrix and Corrina decide to risk everything. They steal a car, spring Gpa from his assisted living facility, stuff Old Humper the dog into the back seat, and take off on a cross-country odyssey from LA to NY. With their parents, Gpa’s doctors, and the police all hot on their heels, Hendrix and Corrina set off to discover for themselves if what Gpa says is true—that the only stories that last are love stories.


PRAISE for The Last True Love Story

2017 Best Fiction For Young Adults


"Readers will be swept up in Kiely's musical prose as Teddy learns about love, romance, forgiveness, and reconciliation."

—  Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A sophisticated story about the power of love, music, and making amends. Deeply personal and universal at the same time, Kiely’s truly lovely tale should find a home in every YA collection.” 

—  School Library Journal, starred review


“Brendan Kiely’s writing soars off the page, ultimately landing someplace between heartwarming and heart-aching (but definitely somewhere in the heart). Here is a book about music, friendship, first and final loves, and all the blue notes in between. Indeed, The Last True Love Story may be exactly that.”

— David Arnold, Bestselling Author of Mosquitoland


“As cool as it is tender, this poignant story about the power of love thrums with classic rock and aches with honesty. I was so moved by Hendrix’s journey and, as a brown girl who loves music, I was completely invested in Corrina — one of my new favorite characters in all of YA. Authentic and beautifully written, The Last True Love Story will truly capture your heart.”

— Jasmine Warga, Author of My Heart and Other Black Holes


“The Last True Love Story is a tender multigenerational story that’s as much about the meaning of family as it is about falling in love. There’s plenty of delightful adventure, but what I loved most about this book is its respect for moments that can be both quiet and life changing at once.”

— Ava Dellaira, Author of Love Letters to the Dead

“Poetic, lovely, and profound…Satisfying and full of longing, the book features deep feelings, full hearts, and heartbreak. It speaks to the importance of forging connections and the power of story to capture memories and meaning.”

—  VOYA, starred review


“Genuine, thoughtful, and heartbreaking, The Last True Love Story is the kind of book that kickstarts an awakening in your soul and will resonate with readers for years to come.”

— Julie Murphy, New York Times Bestselling Author of Dumplin' and Side Effects May Vary


“Some authors write with their hearts first and their heads second. Some the other way around. But Brendan Kiely manages, as always, to strike a skillful and delicate balance between deep, intellectual coming-of-age and poetic, emotional drama. The Last True Love Story stands in a league of its own both in regards to the way it portrays its teenage protagonists and the way it tells the very personal, tragic story of Alzheimer’s. If the point of living is learning how to love, to quote Gpa, then I think we should all start by reading Mr. Kiely’s beautiful novel.”

— John Corey Whaley, Printz and Morris Winner, National Book Award Finalist, and Author of Highly Illogical Behavior


“A beautiful, searing journey into the American heartland. This book, like an epic road trip, is full of difficult truths, great music, and deeply human companions.”

— Daniel José Older, Award-Winning Author of Shadowshaper and the Bone Street Rumba Series


"A boy, grainy.
Facedown on the pavement.
A man above him. Fists raining like stones."


all american boys

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely Simon & Schuster, 2015

All American Boys
by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Simon & Schuster, 2015


Critically acclaimed authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely have joined forces to write an explosive new novel, ALL AMERICAN BOYS, inspired by recent controversial events and the national firestorm over police brutality. 

Rashad Butler and Quinn Collins are two young men, one black and one white, whose lives are forever changed by an act of extreme police brutality. Rashad wakes up in a hospital. Quinn saw how he got there. And so did the video camera that taped the cop beating Rashad senseless into the pavement. Thus begins ALL AMERICAN BOYS, written in tandem by two of our great literary talents, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. The story is told in Rashad and Quinn’s alternating perspectives, as they grapple with the complications that spin out of this violent moment and reverberate in their families, school, and town. Over the course of one week, Rashad tries to find the strength to accept his role as the symbolic figure of the community’s response to police brutality, and Quinn tries to decide where he belongs in a town bitterly divided by racial tension.  Ultimately, the two narratives weave back together, in the moment in which the two boys, now changed, can actually see each other—the first step for healing and understanding in a country still deeply sick with racial injustice. Reynolds pens the voice of Rashad, and Kiely has taken the voice of Quinn.

“As a black man and a white man, both writers and educators, we came together to cowrite a book about how systemic racism and police brutality affect the lives of young people in America, in order to create an important, unique, and honest work that would give young people and the people who educate them a tool for talking about these difficult but absolutely vital conversations,” said Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.

Caitlyn Dlouhy, Vice President, Editorial Director, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, added, “Brendan and Jason have taken on one of the most fraught subjects in our history in a way that is fiercely brave and honest, and will change the way you think.”  


Listen to an Excerpt



“The scenario that Reynolds and Kiely depict has become a recurrent feature of news reports, and a book that lets readers think it through outside of the roiling emotions of a real-life event is both welcome and necessary.”

— Publishers Weekly Starred Review


“With Reynolds writing Rashad’s first-person narrative and Kiely Quinn’s, this hard-edged, ripped-from-the-headlines book is more than a problem novel; it’s a carefully plotted, psychologically acute, character-driven work of fiction that dramatizes an all-too-frequent occurrence. Police brutality and race relations in America are issues that demand debate and discussion, which this superb book powerfully enables.”

— Booklist Starred Review


“Reynolds and Kiely’s collaborative effort deftly explores the aftermath of police brutality, addressing the fear, confusion, and anger that affects entire communities. Diverse perspectives are presented in a manner that feels organic to the narrative, further emphasizing the tension created when privilege and racism cannot be ignored. Timely and powerful, this novel promises to have an impact long after the pages stop turning. Great for fostering discussions about current events among teenage audiences. A must-have for all collections.”

— School Library Journal Starred Review

“At once timely and timeless, funny and wickedly smart, ALL AMERICAN BOYS is a beautifully written narrative about ... about so many things — but most importantly — what it means to be a young man in America — across lines of race — and what it means to be a GOOD person in America — across lines of Everything.”

— Jacqueline Woodson (Author of Brown Girl Dreaming, Winner of the National Book Award


“This life-changing, nation-changing book is written with fire and love and courage. Read it, weep, and then share its power with everyone you know.”

— Laurie Halse Anderson (New York Times Bestselling Author of Speak)


“A first-rate exploration of one of the most important issues of the day: police brutality. But this is more than just a timely issue novel. Reynolds and Kiely have produced a layered, thoughtful, literary work of art.”

— Matt De La Peña (New York Times Bestselling Author of The Living and Mexican Whiteboy)


"In order to tell you what really happened,
what you don't know,
what the journalists didn't report,
I have to start at Mother's annual Christmas Eve party."


The Gospel of Winter

The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015

The Gospel of Winter
by Brendan Kiely
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015


As sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan’s fractured family disintegrates around him, he searches for solace in a few bumps of Adderall, his father’s wet bar, and the attentions of his local priest, Father Greg— the only adult who actually listens to him.

As Christmas hits, Aidan’s world collapses in a crisis of trust when he recognizes the darkness of Father Greg’s affections. He turns to a crew of misfit friends to help make sense of his life: Josie, the girl he just might love; Sophie, who’s a little wild; and Mark, the charismatic swim team captain whose own secret agonies converge with Aidan’s.

The Gospel of Winter maps the ways love can be used as a weapon against the innocent—but can also, in the right hands, restore hope and even faith. This unflinching and courageous debut novel is one that tears away the masks people wear and shows us that in truth, there is power. And real love.



“In a lyrical and hard-hitting exploration of betrayal and healing, the son of a Connecticut socialite comes to terms with his abuse at the hands of a beloved priest.... The story is set in late 2001 and early 2002, and the news stories of the time—the 9/11 attacks, the capture of John Walker Lindh, and eventually, devastatingly, the Catholic Church abuse scandals—are woven in easily and seamlessly. Each of Aidan’s relationships is carefully and subtly drawn, revealed slowly through Aidan’s elegant, pained and often circumspect narration. Often bleak, eventually hopeful and beautifully told.”

— ★ Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2013) Starred Review


“Kiely’s gutsy debut addresses abuse in the Catholic Church. The year is 2001, the events of 9/11 are only two months old, and 16-year-old Aidan’s family is falling apart.... The scandal among the Boston archdiocese in early 2002 gets Aidan’s town’s attention, and when it does, Aidan’s feelings of rage and denial and fear come to a head. This is challenging, thought-provoking material, presented in beautiful prose that explores the ways in which acts rendered in the name of love can both destroy and heal.”

— Booklist (December 15, 2013) Starred Review


“Kiely’s impressive debut takes a controversial topic—sexual abuse in the Catholic Church—and addresses it head-on with sensitivity and finesse. Sixteen-year-old social outcast Aidan Donovan is from a privileged but broken family.... Setting his story against the shaky aftermath of 9/11 and the scandals that surfaced in the Boston archdiocese in early 2002, Kiely hits his mark with a sickening portrayal of Father Greg and those who let his behavior continue. But it’s the combination of Aidan’s vulnerability, denial, and silent rage that makes the novel so distressingly vivid and real.”

— Publisher's Weekly (October 21, 2013) Starred Review


“Boston native Brendan Kiely’s powerful debut,The Gospel of Winter, contains sentences that linger like patches of shadow-covered ice.... Sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan’s story is saturated with pain, longing, and his desperate need to be sure of anything.”

— The Boston Globe (February 22, 2014)

“The Gospel of Winter is a light shining bright on a shamefully dark part of our psyche and history.... Profound, revealing, and expertly told, The Gospel of Winter is a must read for all.”

— Teen Librarian's Toolbox (January 16, 2014)


“‘We live in a world of consequence and effect,’ says the 16-year-old narrator of The Gospel of Winter, a book that will be as satisfying to literary readers as it will to young adults. This is a novel that captures the pulse of a contemporary wound, a truth that needs to be told about the shameful issue of abuse within our society. It is also a novel that examines the faultlines of love, family, adolescence, faith and belonging. Brendan Kiely has written a novel that is both unflinching and redemptive.”

— Colum Mccann (NYT Bestselling Author and National Book Award Winner for Let the Great World Spin)


“The Gospel of Winter marks Brendan Kiely’s auspicious debut as a novelist. Kiely deftly captures the difficulty of becoming oneself in a world filled with contradictions and mixed messages, artfully drawing us into the complex story of a young man’s search for identity, for comfort, for faith. Aidan Donovan’s struggle to find truth lives in all of us—his pain and hope are both resonant and transformative.”

— A.M. Homes (Author of May We Be Forgiven and Winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction)


“Brendan Kiely’s finely tuned debut accomplishes something rare—it pulls you into its main character’s pain and truth without letting you forget how beautiful the world, and people, can really be. An emotional coming of age story that you won’t soon forget.”

— John Corey Whaley (Winner of the Printz and Morris Awards for Where Things Come Back) 


“The Gospel of Winter comes to us in full flower, a rich, complex, wise, beautifully written novel and a compelling read.”

— Frederic Tuten (Author of Tintin in the New World


international editions


The Last True Love Story has been published in six additional countries outside the United States:

The Gospel of Winter has been published in nine additional countries outside the United States:

All American Boys has been published in one additional country outside the United States: