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Review: Winger by Andrew Smith

Title: Winger
Author: Andrew Smith
Year Published: 2013

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 439
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2014 Google Reading map): USA (Oregon)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Ryan Dean West's life is complicated. He's a fourteen-year-old junior at Pine Mountain, a boarding school for rich kids. He's stuck rooming with the biggest jerk on the rugby team in the dorm for miscreants and troublemakers. And he's totally in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little kid. As Ryan Dean tries to get a handle on school, life, and rugby, he finds himself muddling through a lot of decisions and making some major mistakes along the way. But nothing can prepare him for what comes next. And when the unthinkable happens, Ryan Dean has to find a way to hold on to the important things--no matter what.

Review: I gotta' say that the first half of this book wass a 4 for me and I kept thinking, "if I were a teenage boy, this book would be much better. But, I am a middle-aged woman." Then all of a sudden I was sucked in and I couldn't put it down. That's the mark of a really good book: appealing to many different people.

Ryan Dean (yes, that's his first name) is both in his element at Pine Mountain and totally out of it. He is smart, has a few really close friends, and is on the Varsity Rugby team even though he has skipped two grades. But (and sometimes in this book that's a really big but) he keeps making bad choices, some of which are small and ones that are typical (fighting with friends, making out with the wrong girl, etc), but some of them are big (fist fights, getting drunk, breaking important things). Ryan Dean acts first and thinks later, which doesn't always work in his favor. However, along the way he makes some pretty important realizations: what it means to be a friend; there are consequences, often unintended for ones' actions; if you are open to it, there are some really great and fun people out there; and putting yourself out there can lead to something wonderful.

As with all YA literature, there are lessons learned by the characters. What I liked is that the author doesn't hit the reader over the head with them. We get it, but don't get overwhelmed by them and they don't get in the way. I smiled, laughed and even got choked up while reading this, definitely a mark of a good book. But yeah, it's definitely a boy-book.

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