Throwback Thursday: Kickin’ It Backlist Style

A weekly post in which I reminisce over a backlist favorite. 

I’m dedicating this week’s post to one of my all-time favorite teen novels: Winger by Andrew Smith. Some of my fellow booknerds had raved about this book, and it was on sale as an ebook, so I downloaded it. I figured the worst case scenario would be that I’d be out $1.99 and a few hours of my time. No big deal. 

I have to admit that covers can make or break a book for me, and this cover was verging on “break”. I mean, a cocky-looking kid with blood and stitches on his face in a school uniform. . . Maybe this wasn’t the best book choice. (And yes, I know how ridiculous my cover judgment sounds. You don’t need to point that out.) But, I chose to look the other way (a.k.a. tap the right side of my screen) and go straight to the story. Second admission of this paragraph: this book proved my skepticism of the cover to be irrelevant. It. Was. Awesome. 

Yes, Ryan Dean was the cocky kid I expected, but it worked perfectly in this story. Not only did he have significantly more depth as a character than I was expecting, but he was also this strange type of glue that was tying everyone together in this story. And he was witty as hell. I couldn’t help but find myself with a soft spot for him by the time the book ended. 

This book took a pretty emotional turn at one point and, brace yourself, I was a slobbering wreck. (I know! I couldn’t believe it either!) Anyway, Smith graciously proved to me that you can’t judge a book by its cover, and that he is a master wordsmith. (See what I did there?) This book has a lot to offer to readers of all ages. If anything about the synopsis appeals to you, I highly recommend giving it a try. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids in the Pacific Northwest. 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.

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