Winger, by Andrew Smith

I found this book absolutely hilarious, but both my boss and our 17-year-old (female) intern thought it was rather ridiculous. I just can't help it that I think jokes about balls are funny! Ryan Dean West (and yes, Ryan Dean is his first name) is a precocious 14-year-old junior who is stuck at a boarding school somewhere in Oregon. His nickname comes from his position on the varsity rugby team, and he is hopelessly in love with his best friend Annie, a 16-year-old. Ryan Dean tells his story with hilarious side-comments from his constantly sex-obsessed brain, punctuated with hand drawn comics. Yes, he thinks and talks about his balls. A lot. What teenage boy doesn't?

It took me back to a time when I remember every little crisis being the absolute end of the world. This could have been depressing (as "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" was, at times), but his sense of humor instead made me look back at that time with a smile. It is, of course, a coming of age story. Winger has to deal with bullies and peer pressure, girls and friendships, loyalty and duty and doing what's right. There is an awful lot of swearing in it, which I think could have been toned down, but otherwise I think it's a great read for teen boys who are maybe a little too smart for their own good, who have something that makes them stick out in a crowd, who are torn between doing what they want and doing the right thing, and who sometimes have trouble being able to tell the difference. I really enjoyed it, even if the other ladies at my job didn't, and I look forward to giving it to some poor boy who needs a good book-friend.


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