Synopses & Reviews
A teen at boarding school grapples with life, love, and rugby in a heartbreakingly funny novel.
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 infographics 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.
"This brutally honest coming-of-age novel from Smith (Passenger) unfolds through the eyes of Ryan Dean West, a 14-year-old, rugby-playing junior at the exclusive Pine Mountain school. He's two years younger than his classmates, hopelessly in love with his best friend Annie, and stuck in Opportunity Hall, the residence reserved for the worst rule-breakers. As Ryan Dean struggles with football-team bullies, late-night escapades, academic pressures, and girl troubles, he also discovers his own strengths. Like puberty itself, this tale is alternately hilarious and painful, awkward and enlightening; Bosma's occasional comics add another layer of whimsy and emotion, representing Ryan Dean's own artistic bent. The characters and situations are profane and crass, reveling in talk of bodily functions and sexual innuendo, and the story is a cross between the films Lucas and Porky's, with all the charm and gross-out moments that dichotomy suggests. That's what makes the tragedy near the very end all the more shocking and sudden, changing the entire mood and impact of Ryan Dean's journey. The last-minute twist may leave readers confused, angry, and heartbroken, but this remains an excellent, challenging read. Ages 12 up. Agent: Laura Rennert, Andrew Brown Literary Agency. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Winger broke my heart, like any great book should. Andrew Smith is a brave and talented storyteller who blows me away every time. Readers will love Ryan Dean West. This book is powerful, sweet and heart-wrenching."
A. S. King, Printz Honor-winning author of Please Excuse Vera Dietz
"Winger is one of the most honest and beautifully raw novels I've read in a long time. Ryan Dean is a true original." Matt de la Peña, author of Mexican WhiteBoy and We Were Here
"Smart, wickedly funny....In a magnificently frenetic first-person narration that includes clever short comics, charts and diagrams....Smith deftly builds characters — readers will suddenly realize they’ve effortlessly fallen in love with them — and he laces meaning and poignantly real dialogue into uproariously funny scatological and hormonally charged humor, somehow creating a balance between the two that seems to intensify both extremes. Bawdily comic but ultimately devastating, this is unforgettable." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Smith's masterful narrative of the hormonal yet insightful teenage boy flows smoothly throughout the novel...an unforgettable and unflaggingly appealing voice....A classic coming-of-age story that combines humor and heartbreak in just the right amounts." Shelf Awareness, starred review
"Sharp, funny, and perceptive about youthful male friendships. Readers who enjoy stylistically interesting stories about underdogs in boy world may therefore still find this witty and entertaining." BCCB
"A reader looking to pigeonhole Winger into a traditional genre category may be in for a surprise. It's a laugh-out-loud funny sports story set at a boarding school, but it's also a serious look at the many different forms of love — and a subtle meta-narrative about the process of telling a story....Reminiscent of Looking for Alaska, Winger packs a punch that will leave readers rethinking their assumptions about humor, friendship and the nature of storytelling — and about the broad range of emotions of which teenage boys are capable." BookPage
About the Author
Andrew Smith is the author of several award-winning novels for young adults. He lives in a very remote area in the mountains of Southern California with his family, two horses, two dogs and three cats. He doesn’t watch television and occupies himself by writing, bumping into things outdoors, and taking ten-mile runs on snowy trails. He maintains a blog and website about his strange writing life at GhostMedicine.blogspot.com.