The Story of Tom Brennan


J. C. Burke

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on The Story of Tom Brennan makes teaching easy.

The Story of Tom Brennan Themes

Themes and Colors
Family Theme Icon
Friendship and Teamwork Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Debt and Redemption Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Story of Tom Brennan, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


The Story of Tom Brennan is, at its heart, a study of family dynamics in times of crisis. When seventeen-year-old Tom's older brother Daniel chooses to drive drunk and gets in a car accident, killing two classmates and permanently paralyzing his cousin Fin, the Brennans struggle to deal with the fallout both within their hometown of Mumbilli and within the family itself. As time passes and the Brennans begin to put their lives…

read analysis of Family

Friendship and Teamwork

When Tom and his family first move from Mumbilli to Coghill, Tom's initial goal is to remain as anonymous as possible and avoid making too many connections. He's unsure if he even wants to keep playing rugby now that Daniel is in jail, as he's convinced that playing won't be the same without his older brother beside him. As Tom begins to integrate in his new home, however, and chooses to be involved with the…

read analysis of Friendship and Teamwork

Identity and Independence

For most of Tom's life, he lived in the shadow of his older brother Daniel. Despite being only a year and a half apart in age, Daniel overshadowed his little brother in everything—in flashbacks, Tom describes Daniel as bigger, handsomer, and more attractive to girls. However, in the aftermath of the accident, Tom is forced to look closely at his relationship with his brother and the way in which Daniel's supposed superiority caused Tom…

read analysis of Identity and Independence
Get the entire The Story of Tom Brennan LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Story of Tom Brennan PDF

Debt and Redemption

Even as life begins to move on in the months after the accident, the Brennan family continues to feel bogged down by the massive debts they feel they owe everyone around them—from Luke and Nicole's grieving parents, to Aunty Kath and Fin. Through the healing process and in particular through Daniel's journey, the novel sharply interrogates what redemption means for someone who, like Daniel, has taken lives because of his own carelessness…

read analysis of Debt and Redemption