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Xu Ping’s brother is mentally disabled.

But this s*upid brother only has eyes for his older brother.

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03/02/17 Chinese BL Translations c54 (end)
02/23/17 Chinese BL Translations c53
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02/09/17 Chinese BL Translations c51
02/02/17 Chinese BL Translations c50
01/26/17 Chinese BL Translations c49
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01/12/17 Chinese BL Translations c47
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01/01/17 Chinese BL Translations c44
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59 Reviews sorted by

namio rated it
August 26, 2019
Status: Completed

The main character lives in the end, and he's able to have a relationship with the one he loves after decades-- yet when I first read it, I cried out of genuine pain.

Brother is about an older brother who fell in love with a mentally challenged younger brother who only had eyes for him. It's not a novel that fetishizes in*est: Xu Ping's guilt and conflicting emotions over his feelings is lifelong and will never go away. Here is a boy, a teen, a man entrusted with a younger brother who simply lives in a very different world-- a bearer of such heavy responsibility, yet uncontrollable emotions bring an entirely different level of weight onto young shoulders. He struggles with these feelings, and its reciprocal doesn't bring simplistic joy-- there's taboo and he holds the moral responsibility for two. It's a reciprocated love, but it's a love so heavy for one person to bear alone.

Brother, Didi, is about an older brother trying to live and carrying his younger brother through life while at it. Set in the 80's and early 2000's, there's a deliberate dated feel to it, an old-movie faint sepia tint and color grading. But that marked time intentionally adds weight onto the readers: set in years that actually happened, we know that homosexuality was even more not accepted, much less in*est. We know that it was a heavier shame. We know it was a time where children raising other children was more common, where adulthood can set in so early despite the young minds drowning aren't yet biologically developed well enough for it. Xu Ping could still be out there, ground down to the bones, still taking care of Xu Zheng.

There's a passage in the novel that to me spoke the core of it all:

Each of us loses the naivety in our hearts as we grow up, some earlier than others. Some are like lemons being grated for zest, slowly being ground into the shape of an adult's by the forces of life. Others are like porcelain shattering on the floor into a gazillion pieces. They have to crawl back up and try their best to piece themselves back together, and in this process it's not unusual to lose a piece here or gain a piece there. By the end of it all, each will have become a brand new person.

Our protagonist, Xu Ping, was now only eighteen years old, thirty three days away from the nation-wide post-secondary entrance examination. He was presently racing through the city street in the dark of night.

So many years later, it still feels like Xu Ping is presently racing through the city street in the dark of night. Perhaps racing with him now is Xu Zheng. Whether the journey in this dark night is less painful with such company, only one can answer for themselves.

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sakirol rated it
December 11, 2016
Status: --
Incredibly well-written, sad, and heart-wrenchingly tragic.

Xu Ping has one mentally disabled younger brother and a near absent father. He grows up basically parenting his younger brother, and he has to deal with bullies, insidious gossip, and the frustrations of having to use all of his time and effort on a family member whom he can't get through to half of the time. Not only that, he develops doubly forbidden feelings. Homosexuality, by itself, is criminally punishable and shameful during this time period. The shame Xu Ping feels is doubled... more>> by the fact that the target of his interest is his brother...

The internal struggles that Xu Ping has to face and the nuanced external judgement that he must deal with make this a very agonizing and sad read. <<less
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moiralyn rated it
August 16, 2017
Status: c54
I honestly can't see how 24 people could have rated this 1 star. I suspect they didn't read it. Perhaps they didn't like the tags? I'm only speculating though. I just know that anyone who enjoys this genre would not give it a 1 star rating. And if you don't enjoy the genre... why are you rating at all?? *end rant*

What I enjoy are good stories and this is a beautiful story and should have a higher rating. I guess my rant wasn't actually over... On to the review!

The translation... more>> is top quality which showcases the author's talents as the language draws you in and immediately immerses you into the story. Wonderful imagery, authentic details (and interesting tidbits from the translator), often lyrical word choice, etc. The chapters are separated into 3 "books", Book 1 takes place in 1983, Book 2 in 1989, and Book 3 in 2006. Everything that was happening in mainland China in those years provides a vivid and heart wrenching backdrop to a very heart wrenching story. The characters are very believable and all the conflicts are realistic.

I read it all in one sitting and I cried many times. It's all worth it in the end though. <<less
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KeikoKat rated it
March 23, 2016
Status: --
I find the development of feelings between the two brothers very adorable and real. Unlike some other fluffy yaoi novels, there is substance in the turn of events and enough character introspection that the audience can easily witness the character development. I find the characters very relatable, especially the main character, Xu Ping, and there are definitely moments where I could totally imagine myself having the same reaction. I wouldn't know much about China so I could be wrong but the time setting also seems legit and it gives the... more>> book a serious tone like the tone of an autobiography or a "based on a true event" kind of story. I guess the author is just that good at portraying things realistically. <<less
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idlehands rated it
September 24, 2019
Status: Completed
First of, the author did very well in painting an accurate picture of China during a time with civil unrest, changing believes, the rise of political parties and the fight for democracy, how parenting and culture was back then, as well as how mental disabilities were viewed by the general public.

The problems I have can be split into two points.

No one in this story seems to be even remotely mentally healthy, or just a decent person, except for two side characters, neither of them speaks more than a few lines,... more>> the rest of the cast can only be said to be in need of intense psychological help.


I was quite shocked that the only real gay man was a rapist fighting for the right to be openly gay, and while some people might say that it wasn't r*pe but "questionable consent", I personally see beating someone, handling them so rough that they are bruised all over, and forcing them into submission until they go along with it, as r*pe.

Not only that, but he even strangled him when he tried to leave.

I'm certainly not someone who cares about representation, yet even I feel rather miffed when I see "gay rights" coupled with r*pe, it's a very poor choice.


The second and most complex reason is, the relationship between the brothers.

I started this novel because everyone said it was handled so well compared to your usual in*est BL stories, for me it was so much worse due to one of the brother's mental disability, which I thought would be much milder than it turned out to be.

It's a fairly complicated topic, at which point is someone "too disabled" to have the right to choose with whom they are allowed to have s*x with?

All I can do is use my own opinion on this matter, a person who's unable to understand what love and s*x even is, going by nothing but desire, without enough awareness to grasp the concept of in*est, when the person he desires happens to be the only one who loved and took care of him, his only attachment figure who can't be said to be mentally healthy, then I have to make a full stop.

Xu Zheng can't dress himself, wash himself, go anywhere without help, he burns himself with hot water if no one is there to check the temperature for him, if left alone, he would die, either due to an accident or because he starved, he's completely helpless without his brothers.

I can't help but feel very uncomfortable with their s*xual relationship, they are so entangled that it's more a codependency than love, both can't live without the other, and one isn't capable of understanding what's going on at all, he simply follows his desires and whims, while the one responsible for keeping everything in check falls further down into this hole.

We aren't talking about two children, Xu Ping is already 18 when he and his brother have their first real s*xual moment, he's an adult, he's his brother's caretaker, he should know better.

I really wanted to like this story, I was interested in the circumstances, living with a mentally disabled brother in China during such a turbulent time, falling in love with him and fighting for a good future together, but, I can't bring myself to enjoy it, it makes me utterly uncomfortable.

Maybe it's my fault and I had the wrong impression, the tragedy might actually be their unhealthy relationship and not how they fight for a good life.

It was neither a very good nor entirely bad read.

There are some inconsistencies, it was stated several times that Xu Zheng feels no pain, but flashbacks show how he gets hurt and cries out in pain, at the end of the story as well. I don't know if this is a translation error or not, I just felt very irritated by it because it's an essential part of the story. I could list other, minor, things, but they can be overlooked if you aren't deliberately searching for them (or aren't as perfectionist as I am so you notice these things no matter what).

Tragedy is a difficult genre, it's easy to cause much more misfortune than necessary to make the story work, this one, in my opinion, overdid it greatly.


We have a person who has to take care of his mentally disabled brother all on his own, starting when he was still a child, both of them being neglected by their father, bullied by other kids, then he gets send to prison for being gay and supporting the wrong political movement, their father dies of cancer, then he himself gets cancer, all on top of the brothers' relationship which causes all sorts of problems, before Xu Ping nearly dies of drowning.

This is a drama overkill, one instance after another, finished with Xu Ping's cancer that finally makes him realise that the romantic love for his brother should be lived out instead of repressed.


I love good tragedies, I read so many of them in the past 20 years, sadly this one fell into the quantity over quality trap, one or two well thought out problems are worth much more than 6 or so right after another, by the end I was absolutely numb to all tragic occurrences, all I could think of was: "This is the unluckiest guy on earth", which isn't a compliment to the author but a sign that it has gone too far.

Still, if you aren't as picky as I am, or maybe new to the genre, then give it a try.

If you have high expectations, know a lot of good tragedies you will involuntarily compare this novel to, then you should consider to look for something else.

Three well-meant stars for its historic accuracy and general idea. <<less
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Nic rated it
March 7, 2018
Status: Completed
At first I was reluctant to read this because I abhor in*est but then the translator's comments won me over.

When I started reading, I couldn't stop anymore except for the moments when I couldn't control my tears that won't stop falling down. The plot is really too much for my fragile heart. The bond that they have which is stronger than that of brothers is admirable. I will not comment on the in*est thing because I understand the feelings of the MC. Such courage and devotion towards his brother is... more>> something that only a few could do.

5 stars - for the sole reason that the story touched the deepest part of me. Good job to the author! <<less
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darlingv rated it
April 11, 2019
Status: Completed
This was the first translated novel that I ever read and till today it remains one of the most memorable. I won't talk about the wrongs about their relationship except to say that many things are required to be experienced in person or seen from another's point of view before being judged.

I completely understand how they fell for each other. When you only have one person in your life that you're close to, that you love, that you've been taking care off/ has been taking care of you, that person... more>> is your everything.

The story is tragic but also extremely beautiful. The struggles of life are abundant, but the resilience of the human spirit is not to be underestimated. And, as cliche as it sounds, sometimes, love is really all you need to soothe a weary soul (even if it is one that is taboo). <<less
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Reyleisha rated it
November 10, 2020
Status: Completed
Rating: 5/5- This novel was so well written, that I've read it numerous times already. An all-time favourite.

Firstly, I am an incredibly open minded reader, who reads more out of curiosity at first than absolute preference. This novel is in*est between blood brothers and where the younger brother is mentally disabled.

The plot is driven by forbidden and unacceptable love but the turmoil that the MC goes through is so well written. I think love is a dynamic that does not make sense to everyone, and what is acceptable to one... more>> may not necessarily be accepted by others.

In my opinion, the ret*rdation or autism of the younger brother is not portrayed as severely as some real life cases, causing one to see his character overly romanticised and probably unrealistic. This is fiction however so I cannot fault the author much here.


In a way it almost feels like the younger brother simply viewed his older brother as his entire universe from a young age and being together was a natural result, as he could not find solace or comfort with anyone else. The older brother was driven by guilt and then a twisted mutation of such feelings, to become attached and focused on his younger brother. I think having such a neglectful parent also allowed for such feelings to take on a life of itself and grow into that romantic kind of love.


The author really succeeding in turning a taboo type of love into something very pure from start to finish, especially because that guilt and pain of the MC is never forgotten.


It's easy to also see how the MCs desperation drove him to do what he did at the end at the expense of taking advantage of his brother, however if I look at what their circumstances were since childhood, I don't think the younger brother would have ever coped without his brother.


Irrespective of how in*est is depicted, the reality of this novel shows how love develops and warps into the very necessity of someone's life as well as the bane of their existence.

I think one can interpret this novel in many ways, even I personally have many views that are both negative and positive- however the one opinion of mine that stands out is that love is terrifying but honest.

As a reader I am always open minded to various concepts that can be written about in fiction, and my curiosity has always been the foundation of my ever expanding worldliness. I think morally, this topic will be heavily debated and will result in many correct and incorrect points.

However to me, I think this novel will truly remain special because it's this type of book that really allows one to embrace the fearful nature of the world and its emotions, wonders and horrors we live amongst. <<less
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JohnnyCakes rated it
March 24, 2019
Status: Completed
This book hurts. It’s so beautiful and I cried so much in this damn. It’s a emotional roller coaster of a forbidden love between brothers. It felt like my heart was getting pulled out of my chest half the time.

The story is exciting and tragic, the characters are well developed and it was easy to understand (at least for me). I wish the author wrote slightly more in the years he was in prison, the life after the ending and more of Huang Fan. To be honest, I actually really... more>> liked him, I knew that he really loves Xu Ping and that he regretted his decisions...

Okay yes. I wanted extras for Huang Fan to see him suffering. I just like seeing sub-main characters suffering over the main characters... is it weird? <<less
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boundedbrother18 rated it
July 29, 2018
Status: Completed
I liked this novel so much that I had to register an account to write a comment on this. I rarely read a novel because it is often too long for me. But this one I read in 2 days straight to finish the whole story which I felt very moved. I have a different outlook about life now thanks to this. Highly recommended!
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Namjoon9499 rated it
January 12, 2017
Status: c46
I want to thank you so much for translating this novel. This novel make me happy, sad, angry, sometime even all mixed into one.

BL novel with in*est is rare or maybe I couldn't find it, but this one was written beautifully, it touched heart deeply. I'm really thankful for translating such an amazing novel and I'm glad I pick up this novel. I hope my two baby have a happily ever after <3
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ymir rated it
August 13, 2021
Status: --
This is not just a good webnovel, this is a good book period. But I won't talk about the poignant, beautiful, heartaching story, no, many already did this. In this review I want to praise the translator who did such an amazing job! On their website they claim ot be beginner in chinese. I honestly can't believe that -- this is the best translation here on novelupdates. Thank you for bringing such a great book to the western public. I will never forget this story.
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MeineMeow rated it
November 25, 2020
Status: Completed
First of all, I have to warn you that this is not everyone’s cup of tea. This is a total gay, and total in*est. They’re not step brother, they’re full blood brother.

But if you don’t mind, then I have to tell you, this is a very beautiful love story.

Heart wrenching.. Poetically written, the structure shows us that the author is a true writer, and the translation is superb.

This novel told us about love. A brotherly love, a love between the father and the son, a love between friends, and unrequited... more>> love. I personally heartbroken for Huang Fan. May he found his own true love.

And of course, a love between two human. Xu Ping had to face two taboos and that’s why he torture himself. The gay taboo, and the in*est taboo. But when you read this, you’ll realize you’ll just want to support this beautiful man to strive for his happiness. I cried for him, and I smile for him. You can’t help to love Xu Ping, and just want him to be happy.

My limited vocabulary can’t praise the author enough, to bring us this poignant love story. Really.. Beautiful..

Btw, the smut scene is H.O.T <<less
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JadeNuty rated it
July 18, 2022
Status: Completed
I read this years ago and couldn't remember the title to save my life (although it was simply brother 💀) I came back to write this after finally finding it I was so overjoyed!!

This is a heart wrenching story, and you will cry. But it's so beautiful you'd ask for more and will just want to hug those two babies and protect them with all your might. Don't hesitate and read it !
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Severe rated it
June 4, 2021
Status: c25
This novel is a challenge to be read. If I describe the exact feeling, it will be like drowning in a molasses. Suffocating and sweet.

A unique story, can't remember any bl novel like this one. Though it will be a hard one to crack for most of the readers.
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IvaAres rated it
August 29, 2020
Status: Completed
This is one of the best novels I've read. The psychological aspect of the novel was very interesting and the relationship between the two brothers was beautiful!

Fun fact: I was reading this novel on my PC around 2 or 3 years ago cuz my phone broke. So my PC was charging as I was reading the novel and I had been reading it for about 4 days cuz I was reading each and every word. Then one day while my PC was charging and I was on the PC reading... more>> this, the charger went, 'BOOM' and I got scared as hell. Thought my PC was finally dead, I could never use it, it won't ever charge and other sh*t lol but in the end it was perfectly fine except for the fact that I just needed a new charger.

After that event, this novel never left my mind. <<less
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J3n rated it
October 6, 2019
Status: Completed
This story is so under-rated. It is such a beautifully written and translated story. Although the topic is quite controversial, it really makes me pause and think. What is true love? Should people not deserve love in their lives? Their love hurts no one else and make both of their poor souls happy in this life times after so many unfortunate trials. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who want more substance in their reading materials.
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laurachisom rated it
September 30, 2019
Status: c43
I know this was a psychological book but I have an autistic sibling and this just hits too close to home. From my perspective this is just manipulative and evil - the relationship with his autistic brother. From my perspective it was just ????
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stygetsu rated it
March 27, 2018
Status: Completed
To have this work translated is a Blessing (with a capital B.) The translation is very good that it successfully evoked raw emotion, and it immerses you into a sad, heart-wrenching heartbreak of a story.

The tags may seem deplorable and atrocious, but I suggest you go out of your comfort zone and (at least) explore this one single work. You'll undergo an emotional turmoil so ravishing that you'll constantly find yourself in tears.

This is my kind of work.
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TheDecayingFlower555 rated it
October 12, 2021
Status: Completed
Y'all know those movies and stories that are basically slice of life that leaves you feeling empty and soulless when it's done. Yeah, this novel did this to me. The entire story felt like a biography of the character's life. The ending gave me a bittersweet feeling. That's just how life is... bittersweet.

I truly loved this novel.
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