Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winger by Andrew Smith


Ryan Dean West is 14 and in 11th grade at boarding school.  After some unfortunate circumstances at the end of Sophomore year, he's being forced to move into Opportunity Hall.... basically the dorm for delinquents.  And he's moving in with Chas Becker, a guy who could kill Ryan Dean at any moment.  

Ryan Dean is on the Rugby team and that pretty much saves his skin; as well as making friends with Joey (the gay but tough Senior), and his nerves of steel.  For being "the little kid" in his circle of friends, Ryan Dean is probably the one with the least amount of fear.  He's determined for things to be different this year, and he pushes himself to do things that are kinda crazy.

With Annie (his BFF & crush) growing closer to him, but also Megan (Chas's girlfriend) intensely flirting.... this year is definitely going to be different.

I think there may be something wrong with me.  I love books with immature male main characters.  Maybe I'm a teenage boy at heart??  I just find the thoughts and antics of teenage boys hilarious.  Is that weird?

Anyway when I first saw this book, the cover kind of threw me.  I mean is it a joke?  Is this book about bullying?  I couldn't tell.  I had seen a few good reviews of it, so I decided to just go for it regardless of the icky cover.  And I really really liked it.  Like- laughed out loud and smiled and wanted to go back to being 16 & be friends with a 14 year old junior-liked.

The best part of this book was all the crazy adventures the boys get into living in dorms together.  It reminded me of my freshman year of college.

For example: the boys would super-secretly play poker after "lights out".  Who ever was the first one out would be delivered a "consequence" by the winner.  These "consequences" were utterly hilarious.  Especially one where Joey, Ryan Dean, and Chas went on a drive into town.  It was epic, that's all I can say.

I loved the way Ryan Dean saw the world.  He was SO immature at times, but then he was also charismatic.  It seemed like he would get himself into these really dumb situations because he was naive and headstrong... but then he would know the just-right thing to do or say to get himself out of it also.

Then.... there was a then.  This book had a total Looking for Alaska moment that I didn't see coming.  I was all la-de-da having fun reading about silly boys and all their crazy times, and I didn't realize shit was about to get serious.  And then my heart broke a little.... or a lot.  But this made the book all that more meaningful because they did go through something life changing besides catastrophic penis injuries.

 I do wish there was a little more time spent on the wake of such a tragedy.  It was sort of like here you go, something completely unexpected and horrible, and THE END.  There was no time spent on dealing with it.  What I got out of it was this-- Ryan Dean was clearly a lover of words.  As a narrator he was constantly rambling and telling us every little thing... but then this thing happens and he has no words.  Regardless, I still felt really emotional about what happened and what was said and wasn't said in the aftermath.

OVERALL:  UGH I love books about boys that make me laugh and cry.  Ryan Dean West is definitely a piece of work and you won't soon forget him.  It's worth reading and worth nominating for awards.  I recommend for fans of Looking For Alaska.

How I got this book: Library
Date Published:  5/14/2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Add it to your To-Read List!!

This Book Contains:
  • Boarding School
  • School Uniforms
  • RUGBY!!!
  • Comic book-like drawings
  • Shenanigans
  • Hilarious Haiku's
  • Northern California
  • A visit to an island near Seattle
  • Running
  • GLBT issues

My Rating: 5/5


  1. I'm so glad you liked this one, it's one of my favorite reads this year. I agree with everything you said about Ryan Dean. What did one of the characters tell him? That he has the biggest balls out of anyone? He is so immature and headstrong, but I love that he just went for stuff. And I couldn't agree more with your assessment of the end. I was all set to give this 5 stars, but then that thing happened at the end and pretty much 10 pages later it was over. I wanted the characters to have time to deal and grieve.

  2. I really want to read this book :)