I received this book for free from Penguin in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Winger by Andrew Smith
Series: Winger #1
Published by Penguin Books on 5th June 2014
Genres: contemporary, young adult
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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.
Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.
I read many books every month and every year and whilst I love the majority of them, sometimes there are a few that really stand out. Winger, by far, is a massive contender for my favourite book of the year.
Set in an American boarding school, Ryan Dean Smith is a normal teenage boy who is a winger, hence the title, on the school rugby team and happens to be in love with his best friend, Annie. Winger tells the story of his year in Opportunity Hall, the building that houses the school’s resident troublemakers.
Before reading, I was a little bit nervous. Although I’d heard really good things about it, I hadn’t read or watched any specific reviews so I went into it with a completely open mind. Meaning to read only a few pages, I couldn’t help but read chapter after chapter, and found myself totally immersed.
As a teenager myself, one of the things that really bothers me is when the protagonist in a YA novel feels forced and doesn’t reflect an actual teenager living in today’s day and age. Fortunately, Smith has created an incredibly well rounded and credible teenager in Ryan Dean, who is the epitome of adolescence.
Winger is a book that will attract many teenagers because of its relevance to real issues that every youth has to face – from attracting your crush to dealing with fights and arguments. I also think Smith has portrayed the hormonal and lust-driven teenager well in Ryan Dean. From the first page it is obvious that Smith hasn’t bothered to sugar coat the details. In fact, the novel opens with Ryan Dean trying to save himself from having his head shoved down a toilet. Definitely an opening worth remembering!
Included in Winger are comic strips and illustrations that added familiarity and humour. Although Winger isn’t the shortest book, it’s fast-paced and an easy read. It leaves the reader with many thoughts and feelings; it’s not a book you put down without it leaving its mark.
No matter who you are – male or female, adult or teenager – I think Winger is the perfect book for you. I cannot stop recommending it and I just know that it’s worth your time to buy and read.