Book Blog--WINGER by Andrew Smith

Katherine Longshore Reply Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking. (from Goodreads)

Do you ever come across one of those YA novels that just feels real?  Painfully real, just like life was as a teenager.  First love, heartbreak, confusion, wanting to do the right thing, best friend breakups, school getting in the way of life, finding the one school activity that makes you feel alive and a part of something bigger.

Well, Andrew Smith's WINGER was like that for me--very real, but also more.  It was like the difference between watching a movie and watching it in 3D--vibrant, frightening, big.  For example, I loved acting in high school, and it made me feel part of a group, but Ryan Dean West (aka Winger) discovers something even more participatory in rugby.  Even the guys he doesn't like are like brothers--because of the team.  All of Ryan Dean's life--his conflicts, his emotions--are right there on the page.  Even the "small" things--getting drunk for the first time, passing notes in class, taking a run--become extraordinary.

And just like life, things take you by surprise.  A midnight trip into town--that in any "normal" life would be uneventful--became a just-this-side of farcical adventure that made me laugh myself speechless.  And just like life, the unexpected can smack you upside the head, leave you reeling, and you have to sort your own way through it.  I'll be thinking about this book for a long time to come.

I know, we don't normally gush in our book blogs--we don't technically "review" anything.  We write about the books we're reading because we want to talk about them--what's better than talking about books?  I just figured this book deserves some gushing.

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