Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Winger by Andrew Smith

Pat stops by with a look at a book gathering some serious buzz this summer.

Winger by Andrew Smith

This book doesn't fall into a neat category.  That's part of the appeal.  Starting with the cover and continuing throughout, Winger by Andrew Smith is simultaneously cringe-inducing and laugh-out-loud, snortingly hilarious.  And then it just flat out knocks you out.  Seriously.  Fair warning that you may feel sucker punched after turning the final pages.  But you so should read this book. (And don't cheat and read the ending first.  That would be wrong.)

Achingly self-aware, smart and funny, fourteen-year-old Ryan Dean West is a junior  at a boarding school for rich kids. Though the youngest in his class by far, his position as winger on the rugby team affords him some status.

He's stuck rooming in O-Hall (the dorm for troublemakers--he hacked a cell phone) with Chas, the biggest bully on their rugby team. And Ryan Dean is in love with his best friend Annie, who at sixteen, thinks he is adorable, which is not at all the response he's after. But though his heart belongs to Annie, Ryan Dean is acutely aware of other girls, most notably Megan, girlfriend of the aforementioned bully roommate.

Ryan Dean's attempts to maneuver the challenges of boarding school, first love, first lust, his friendships with a wonderfully demented group of rugby teammates (especially his best friend Joey, who happens to be gay,) and just plain growing up, are infused with equal parts of good humor and bad judgment. You'll pull for Ryan Dean, believe me.  I think a lot of guys will probably  relate to Ryan Dean.  And lots of girls, and probably some guys, will fall in love with Ryan Dean.

So go for it--take this brilliant ride with Ryan Dean West, but remember that growing up can be really, really hard and sometimes the tears from laughing and crying are hard to tell apart.

This is a great book for  high schoolers who can handle mature situations, language, drinking and gambling, and general bad boarding school behavior in their reading.

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