Sunday, June 23, 2013
Calling It for the Printz: "Winger" by Andrew Smith
It's Winger by Andrew Smith, and I'm calling this one now: it's definitely my pick for the 2014 Printz award (honoring what the judges consider to be the past year's best YA book). To sum it up quick and dirty, it's about 14-year-old Ryan Dean West, a junior (yes that's right, he's a 14-year-old junior) at a northwestern elite private school for rich kids. Ryan is pretty much a normal teenage dude: he's in love with a "smoking hot" girl (his best friend, who's 16 and thinks of Ryan Dean as a little kid), gets into fights with jerks, plays sports (rugby, which I never found particularly interesting until Winger), and he's navigating that tricky terrain between constantly feeling like a loser and not actually being a loser. Oh, and he's constantly thinking about the stuff that pretty much all teenage boys think about (I won't say anything more about that other than wink wink).
It's an incredibly funny book that chronicles the everyday misadventures of Ryan Dean West (there's all kinds of comics scattered throughout the store), but ultimately Winger (named after Ryan Dean's position on the rugby team, which is also his nickname) is a tragicomedy. I won't say anything more, other than that something pretty life-changing--no, very life-changing--happens at Pine Mountain that....Well, that changes Ryan Dean's life (hence, you know, the life-changing thing).
It's hard to say a lot about this book without giving away major plot points, but I will say it's one of my top reads of 2013 so far. I'd strongly recommend it, especially for anyone 14+, but please be aware that Winger contains graphic language and semi-graphic themes (you know, the whole wink wink and all). In other words, it contains the kinds of language you'd probably hear kids saying in most high schools; it contains the kind of words you'll probably hear (and probably already do hear) in real life.
Winger is a fairly mature read that may not be for everyone.
Go read it.*
*Unless you don't want to. Or wait a couple of years, and then read it. It's worth the wait!