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Review: Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Title: Bruiser
Author: Neal Shusterman
Year Published: 2012

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 336
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Geography Connection (my Google Reading map): USA (?)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Tris Tennyson: Don't get me started on the Bruiser. He was voted "most likely to get the death penalty" by the entire school. He's the kid no one knows, no one talks to, and everyone hears disturbing rumors about. So why is my sister Bronte dating him? One of these days she is going to take in the wrong stray dog, and it's not going to end well.

Bronte: My brother has no right to talk about Brewster that way--no right to threaten him. There is a reason Brewster can't have friends--why he can't care about too many people. Because when he cares about you, things start to happen. Impossible things that cannot be explained. I know, because they are happening to me.

Review: Now that I've read this book, the question is why does it sit on our library shelves unread? It is so good! In the first few pages I thought this was going to be a typical story of a misunderstood high school bully. He'd be abused and no one knew, he'd make a friend and it would all work out fine by the end of the book. But no, this is so much more.

The characters really are believable and likable, even in their faults. The main characters of twins Tennyson and Bronte are good kids with flaws. They argue, they like their parents, Tennyson has a temper (Bronte even calls him a bully), and they think about things. I liked that last part in particular: when someone told them something, they actually thought about it and tried to change things. Brewster, the "bully" is really a loner and the reader finds out why fairly early on in the story. That was well done, because it starts to dawn on the reader and we find out for sure quickly, no stringing it out in an annoying way.

Okay, so if I say anything more about the plot I am going to give it away and I cannot do that. One really needs to read the book for oneself to discover what happens when Brewster cares about you. Suffice it to say that friendship and caring have never been so impactful, so life-changing, so strange. Last night I talked about this book with my daughter, her friend, and the friend's mother. They haven't even read the book, but when I explained it to them we really got into a good discussion about friends and helping them through the tough times.

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