Social issues aren't the only things plaguing St. Mike's. The schools infrastructure is falling apart and the priest is determined to shut the schools doors forever (if only to cover his own ass). After a school year of fear and misery, can this school really continue on?
I don't even know where to start with this book. I'm going to try my hardest to describe my feelings about it, but it's not going to be easy. This is one of those books that completely surprised and entertained me, and was just so different from anything I've ever read, that I don't think I have words to do it justice.
Brutal Youth starts out with DRAMA at St. Mike's (a Catholic school outside of Pittsburgh). St. Mike's is like the center for all dysfunction. They still permit hazing of the incoming students, the priest is definitely less than priest-like, and the students are their own worst enemies. Everyone in this book is at least half-miserable, so if you've opened it hoping for someone to come along and make you smile, you've probably opened the wrong book. I've never felt so disturbed and excited at the same time. I am born and raised Pittsburgh, so I enjoyed some of the hometown references such as: the janitor that speaks "yinzer", the Tarentum Bridge, the Brackenridge steel mill, Shadyside Academy, Springdale, Cheswick, Eat'n Park, Duquense Light, and many others. Pittsburgh really was a great setting for this book because depression breeds misery and New Kensington has definitely gone through it's fair share of economic depression. I also loved the 90's Catholic school setting, with it's uniforms and gothic architecture, it made the perfect creepy, cool place for all this pandemonium to be taking place.
This book actually reminded me a lot of Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan. It had that same dark feeling, but was also funny in odd, uncomfortable ways. And just like Crash and Burn, there were so many story lines and plot threads, that I found myself completely addicted to it. I love books that make me uncomfortable... and there are SO many cringe-worthy, out-there moments in this story, that I know I will remember reading this for a long, long time.
My only gripes with this book were the ending and some of the believe-ability. I wanted a more concrete ending... and I still had MAJOR questions about 2 of the main characters. I wanted to understand more about them, and I wanted to know what would become of them. It didn't have to have neat bow on it, but I thought at least one of those 2 people deserved more. There are also a lot of characters, most of which go by last names only. I don't exactly know why all the guys in the book go by last names and all the girls go by first names, but it made it really hard to remember who all these people were. There had to be at least 25 people that play major roles in this book. I found myself flipping back quite often to figure out if characters were who I thought they were.
Some suspension of disbelief is necessary while reading this. I got a Matilda vibe from this book for sure. Almost all of the adults and kids are terrible, cruel people. Almost cartoon-like cruel. And they are described in really crass way. I kept envisioning them as deformed. It is fiction, but it's hard for me to get lost in a story when I don't believe the people in it could actually ever exist. Somehow the author made it work, but it walked a fine line.
I'm not sure if this book is YA or Adult... it seems to be marketed both ways. All I know is I would recommend this to both teens and adults. It has something for everybody, although I'm not sure everybody would like this type of book. You really have to be in the mood for something dark and have an open mind about it.
OVERALL: I personally loved this book!! It had the 90's, Pittsburgh, and crazy evil issues. I was fully entertained and addicted to reading this dark, captivating, cartoon-like, addicting, humorous book. I rec it to anyone looking to read something different from anything they've ever read before.
This Book Contains:
- PITTSBURGH!! (New Ken to be exact)
- A Catholic school (complete with the uniform)
- Family problems
- Graphic Violence
- Smiley Cookies (if you're from Pittsburgh, you know how awesome these are)
- Tons of swearing
- Minimal sexual content
My Rating: 4.5/5
How I got this book: Endless thanks to St. Martin's Press for sending me a copy to read and honestly review.
Date Published: 6/10/2014