Monday, August 26, 2013

Winger by Andrew Smith

Winger by Andrew Smith
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.

This is a book that requires lots of tears to be shed. Both from laughing so hard, your sides will start to cramp, and from the devastation you'll feel when you're reminded of how hard life can hit you at any time in the most unfairest of ways.

I hadn't encountered a great YA voice in a while, and that's usually what seals the deal for me when it comes to not only a great contemporary, but one with a male lead. Ryan Dean sure is a character; he's hilarious and pervy and all the other things that make a teenage boy a teenage boy, but he's also naive and loyal, and a bit of an underdog - one that you'll be rooting for no matter what he gets himself into and sets himself up for.

Also, a major plus: this book had sports. Sports! Rugby, to be precise. I'm from south Texas, so there's not a whole lot of rugby down here (well, at least not that I know of), but I loved that this sport was a big aspect of the book, even if it wasn't one I'm familiar with. I've been complaining lately about how much I wish there were more sports incorporated in YA - especially because they were such a big deal when I was a teen myself (actually, who am I kidding, they still are) - so this book definitely satisfied my demands.

Ultimately, I love this story because of its honesty and its earnestness. It's one of those books I want to shove at every person that tries to talk down YA and/or brush it off as "fluff." Winger provides such a raw portrayal of so many life issues that teens struggle with - that we've all struggled with at some point - that shapes us into the people we will subsequently become: bullying, peer pressure, hormones, relationships, prejudice--you name it and it's touched upon within the pages.

If you're in want of an unforgettable YA contemporary, look no further. This is a tale of growing up, falling in love, friendship and... well, life; one where you evolve along with the characters and watch their growth throughout its entirety until its heartbreaking conclusion. A sure favorite and a Best of 2013 pick, I will definitely be raiding Smith's backlist soon.

Winger is in stores now, and I strongly suggest that you pick up a copy.

PS If you're a Looking for Alaska lover looking for another boarding school setting, or a fan of The Perks of Being a Wallflower that loves a misfit like Charlie, you've found a new favorite book.


  1. This one sounds so good! I need to see if my library has it. Great review!

  2. I adored this book. It was so funny...and heartbreaking. I wish everyone would read this one. I'm glad you loved it, too. Great review!

  3. Just got a copy from my library and I'm starting today. So excited to read this book after all of the great reviews I've seen!


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