The Story of Tom Brennan


J. C. Burke

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The Story of Tom Brennan Characters

Tom Brennan

Tom is the seventeen-year-old protagonist of the novel. Though Tom has spent most of his life overshadowed by his older brother, Daniel, the two have always been close. Both love rugby and, growing up… read analysis of Tom Brennan

Daniel Brennan

Daniel, Tom's older brother by a year and a half, is the drunk driver behind the car crash that kills two and leaves his cousin Fin paralyzed. Throughout his childhood, Daniel could seemingly do… read analysis of Daniel Brennan


The father of Tom, Kylie, and Daniel. Prior to the accident, Dad repaired tractors and was the rugby coach at St. John's in Mumbilli. He was very involved in his son’s rugby… read analysis of Dad


Tom and Daniel's cousin, Fin is permanently paralyzed in the accident. Though Fin is only a week younger than Daniel, the latter overshadowed Fin in everything they did until weeks before the crash. In… read analysis of Fin


Tom's mother. She and Daniel have always been close, though Tom hesitates to call it favoritism when he talks about their relationship. In the weeks and months before the accident, Tom begin to notice… read analysis of Mum
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Gran is Tom's grandmother. She lives on acreage in Coghill that she calls Saint Marguerite Bourgeouy's, after her favorite saint. However, Gran's love for saints isn't limited to Saint Marguerite; she's a stanch Catholic… read analysis of Gran


Brendan is Tom's uncle. He lives in a cabin on Gran's property and runs the tractor repair business at the sheds, which he inherited from Pa. He's gay and not secretive about… read analysis of Brendan

Aunty Kath

Aunty Kath is Fin's mother and Mum and Brendan's sister. Because her husband died about fifteen years ago, she's mostly on her own in taking care of Fin in the aftermath of the… read analysis of Aunty Kath

Kylie Brennan

Kylie is Tom's younger sister; she's about fifteen. For much of the novel, Kylie is closed off and volatilely angry with Tom and her parents, though she does seek friendship and community at school… read analysis of Kylie Brennan


In Mumbilli, Claire was Daniel's girlfriend. Tom describes her as being different from Daniel's other girlfriends in important ways; namely, she didn't back down when Daniel got moody and sulky, and Daniel loved her… read analysis of Claire

Chrissy Tulake

Chrissy is Jonny's sister and Tom's love interest. When Tom first meets her, she's dating a former Bennie's rugby player, Davin. Tom is initially attracted to her because Chrissy is extremely beautiful… read analysis of Chrissy Tulake

Jonny Tulake

Jonny is Brendan's boyfriend and a former rugby player. He's very tall, extremely handsome, and makes sure to treat Tom very kindly, especially right after Tom moves to Coghill. Jonny works in the sheds… read analysis of Jonny Tulake


Matt was Tom's best friend in Mumbilli before the accident. Their friendship continues after Tom moves, but Tom feels unable and unwilling to truly connect with Matt given their history. They played together on… read analysis of Matt


Rory is one of Tom's first friends in Coghill; they meet at the touch game on Australia Day. Rory plays five-eight—Daniel's old position, which means he has large shoes to fill. For… read analysis of Rory


Tom, Daniel, and Kylie's grandfather; he died years before the start of the novel. He ran a tractor repair business in town but moved it to his and Gran's home after… read analysis of Pa

Michael Harvey

Harvey is the rugby coach at Bennie's; Dad is his assistant coach. Tom also has Harvey for homeroom. Tom finds Harvey nice enough but perplexingly invested in creating a sense of camaraderie and team spirit… read analysis of Michael Harvey


Luke was the captain of the St. John's rugby team and one of Daniel's best friends. He dies when Daniel chooses to drive drunk after a party and crashes his car into a tree… read analysis of Luke


Nicole was one of the two St. John's students who died when Daniel crashed his car. She was a year younger than Tom and was active in musical theater. Though it's never confirmed, Tom hears… read analysis of Nicole


Theo is an inmate and one of Daniel's peers at the Westleigh Detention Center. He's in jail on drunk driving charges similar to Daniel's and is intensely guilty about it. Jerry is Theo's official… read analysis of Theo

Brad Wiseman

Brad is one of Tom's rugby teammates at Bennie's. He's very tall, large, and known for his epic belly flops in the Coghill pool. Brad also has a habit of hungrily checking out… read analysis of Brad Wiseman

Chris Davin

Davin is a former Bennie's student and rugby player. He also dates Chrissy for much of the novel. According to the rest of the team, Chris is the kind of guy who can have any… read analysis of Chris Davin


Owen was one of Tom and Daniel's rugby teammates in Mumbilli and also one of Daniel's best friends. He, Luke, and Daniel spent much of their free time drinking, which made all three… read analysis of Owen


Brianna becomes Kylie's best friend in Coghill. Tom never speaks to her directly, but Rory and Jimmy explain that Brianna and her group of friends are troublemakers and should be treated with caution. Brianna… read analysis of Brianna


Jimmy is one of Tom's closer friends on the Bennie's rugby team. Though Jimmy doesn't say anything until after Kylie's speech, he then reveals that he has long known about what happened with… read analysis of Jimmy


Theo is an inmate and one of Daniel's peers at the Westleigh Detention Center. He's in jail on drunk driving charges similar to Daniel's and is intensely guilty about it. Jerry is Theo's official… read analysis of Theo
Minor Characters
Snorter was one of Tom's best friends in Mumbilli. He was obsessed with his trail bike and video games and was less involved in rugby. The accident had a profound effect on him, which resulted in him becoming very distant from Tom in the months after.
Judge Williams
Judge Williams is the judge for Daniel's sentencing trial. He's known for being a relatively harsh judge. He points out that, as a team player, Daniel should've known better than to drive in his condition.
Dennis Talbot
Talbot is Daniel's solicitor (lawyer) during his trial in Mumbilli. Kind and patient, he explains exactly how and why legal things happen the way they do.
Tonelli is the Bennie's rugby team captain. Before the match with St. John's, he rallies the team and tells them they need to do well to support Tom.
Marcus is one of Tom's rugby teammates at Bennie's. Rory tells Tom that Marcus is a bit of a jerk, but Marcus turns out to be a fine player and supportive of Tom.
Shorty's real name is Peter McGregor; he plays touch rugby on Australia day with Tom, Jonny, and Brendan. He recognizes Tom as a star youth rugby player.
Jerry is Daniel's mentor at the crisis center. He also mentors Theo.
One of Tom's rugby teammates at Bennie's.
Father Vincent
Gran’s priest in Coghill. He’s a redhead with a large beard and is often awkward.