REVIEW: Winger by Andrew Smith

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.

REVIEW: Winger by Andrew SmithWinger by Andrew Smith
Series: Winger #1
Published by Penguin Books on 5th June 2014
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Pages: 438
Format: Paperback
Source: Penguin
Buy on AmazonBuy on Hive

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.


Lucy Powrie

Lucy Powrie is a blogger, YouTuber and author from the UK. When she's not reading, she enjoys cuddling guinea pigs and eating Oreo chocolate, but let's be real: she's mostly always reading.


  1. Reply

    Jessica (MsBooklover89)

    1 August, 2014

    Great review! I loved this book as well!! I definitely liked it more than I thought I would 🙂
    Jessica (MsBooklover89) recently posted…review: Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeMy Profile

  2. Reply


    1 August, 2014

    Thanks for the insightful review! I added to my to-read list.
    Benni recently posted…Broken Harbor by Tana FrenchMy Profile

    • Reply


      9 March, 2017

      Gee whiz, and I thoghut this would be hard to find out.

  3. Reply

    Ebony @ Paperbacks & Protagonists

    2 August, 2014

    Thanks for the fantastic review, Lucy! I read this one in June and I loved it, so I’m glad to hear that you did also. 🙂
    Ebony @ Paperbacks & Protagonists recently posted…August New ReleasesMy Profile

  4. Reply

    Georgia (The Bibliomaniac)

    3 August, 2014

    Awesome review – totally swayed me, I’m buying this asap 🙂 I’ve heard lots of great things too, but every time I’ve seen it in a store I’ve ended up buying something else instead… Not sure why! Can’t wait to read this now, Lucy – it sounds amazing:)
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  5. Reply

    Tilly @ Hardcore Heroines

    3 August, 2014

    AHHHH I wants this so bad. Before I was thinking, eh, is it overhyped? IDK. But Lucy, you keep making me want to read books and that’s unfair. Now it has your stamp of approval though I want to read it so bad haha.
    Tilly @ Hardcore Heroines recently posted…[Lifestyle] This WeekMy Profile

  6. Reply

    Jesse Owen

    4 August, 2014

    I really, really like the sound of this. It sounds like something I want to try – great review 🙂
    Jesse Owen recently posted…Review: Love Letters To The Dead By Ava DellairaMy Profile

  7. Reply


    4 August, 2014

    In all honesty, the genre and cover of this book have kind-of put me off picking it up. I really don’t think it’s my thing but with glowing reviews like yours, I’m starting to reconsider. If only just a little bit. 😉

    I’m glad the author knew how to make the MC relatable to teens and it didn’t come across like he knew no idea of how teens act.

    Great review!
    Rachel recently posted…Aghhhhhhhhh!My Profile

  8. Reply


    9 March, 2017

    feast: no, d300 too heavy n d90 not on market yet. have to do another tranpjoh!athin: good tt u asked. it was trotters, not hock. trotters are the em, digits, whereas hocks are the upper part of the lower leg. i thnk.pea: ah, must be d same shop. there’s so many places in hk i think it’ll take years to check out most of the places.wish i could stay there for a couple of months.

  9. Reply

    15 March, 2017

    O Outono é a minha estaçAo favorita, seguida pela primavera. O tom da cidade estava levemente diferente do que havia presenciado no final do verão. Mas queria ter ido em outubro so que nao foi possivel

  1. Reply

    New Books! #52 | the bibliomaniac book blog

    25 August, 2014

    […] the blogosphere about WINGER! I’ve read so, so many stunning reviews, but it was mainly Lucy @ Queen of Contemporary’s review that completely swayed me to rush out and buy a copy at last. I can’t wait to see first-hand […]


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