Latest Read: Winger by Andrew Smith

Here are the basics ...
Winger by Andrew Smith
Publication date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Borrowed from library / purchased after reading

Summary: 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. (Adapted
My thoughts…
The good: If you asked me a week ago if I would read a book told from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy, I probably would've said thanks, but no thanks. It's just not a book I would typically pick up. But between the rave reviews Winger was getting and knowing that I would attend a Books of Wonder panel featuring author Andrew Smith, I decided to give it a try. And I am so, so glad I did! It was laugh-out-loud funny, authentic, heartwarming and just when you think you have it all figured out, it packs a sucker punch at the end that pretty much broke my heart.

Ryan Dean West (also known by his Rugby name Winger) is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. Obviously he's smart and most of the time, follows the rules to a T. But one not-so-little mistake lands him in the dorms for troublemakers and this pretty much changes the course of his junior year. He's rooming with fellow Rugby teammate Chaz who happens to be a huge scary bully, separated from his two closest friends and hopelessly in love with his best friend Annie (who's two years older than him). He's basically trying to survive this year without getting beat up and hopefully convincing Annie to give him a chance.

Ryan Dean is one of the most authentic male YA voices I've read in a really long time. Possibly ever. Even though he's surrounded by kids two years older than him, he is very much fourteen. In other words, he's kind of obnoxious, makes a lot of mistakes and constantly has girls on the brain in an immature way. But even when I wanted to yell at him for being such a guy (which further proves how real he is!), I always thought - he's a good kid. And he is. He's a nice guy who loves his friends and accepts them for who they are (his friendship with Joey is one of the book's highlights). Plus he's just adorable with Annie. Normally I don't root for the whole older girl / younger guy thing but in this case, I wanted Annie give him a chance. Who cares if he's 14! I really bought their friendship and their eventual attempts to see if there was more. I may have swooned a little too, particularly over this one line they say to each often throughout the course of the book. (Sorry can't tell you what it is!)

(No) reservations: None! If you're like me and scared of the whole 14 year old boy perspective, don't be. This is worth it.

Do I recommend?: I highly recommend. After reading, I couldn't stop thinking about it for days and I seriously wanted to buy a copy for all the guys I know - from my 21 year-old younger cousin to my coworker in his late 30s. But ladies, I think this is worth checking out too. And my final selling point - awesome illustrations! (Ryan Dean likes to draw.)

Happy reading!


  1. I've seen so many rave reviews for this book, I really need to pick it up! It's always satisfying when a book turns out to be better than you initially thought. The perspective from a 14 year-old boy is not your everyday POV I'm sure, but I'm so glad to hear that you were able to enjoy it, and that it was authentic. Gorgeous review, Rachel! I'll be sure to pick it up (and look at those illustrations)!

  2. I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed Winger! Based on what you and Estelle thought of it, I'm thinking it'll be a hit with me too. I'm definitely going to have to put this on my TBR, stat.


with love,