Winger: Andrew SmithFor my Young Adult Literature class, we’re doing “Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll” as our topic this week. I picked Winger up from the library I work at about a week and a half ago and decided this would be the first book I read for this week’s class because of the cover alone. Look at it: It’s so stark and somehow reminds me of an Instagram shot this kid would have taken for his friends. The whole book jacket is amazing; the back is a sketch (presumably done by Ryan Dean–similar to the style of the ones throughout the entire novel–of the front cover image. It’s a mirror image cartoon. Bloody brilliant. I love the advertising and planning that had to have gone into making the cover for Winger.


Ryan Dean West is a 14-year-old Junior at Pine Mountain boarding school (it’s got boys and girls in it). He’s been placed in “Opportunity Hall” or “O-Hall” for bad behavior, meaning his friends aren’t going to be in his dorm. He struggles with bullying, and being seen as a child. He’s a 14-year-old boy. So (obviously) there’s this girl… Annie. A brilliant character to play opposite Ryan Dean. His nickname is “Winger” because that’s the position he plays on the rugby team. The team captain is Joey (he has no nickname because Joey is already short enough) who is the only openly gay student at PM.

Enter the Halloween Dance–that pivotal night. JP, Winger’s best friend prior to Junior year, asks Annie to the dance. What a traitor. Seanie, JP’s roommate, thinks Winger is overreacting. Joey, Winger’s new best friend thinks Winger should have grown a pair and asked Annie before anyone else could have. Winger thinks JP deserves a punch in the face.

This book reads like the tried and true thoughts of an adolescent boy–lots of sarcasm, attitude, humor, & regret. However, the ending has a tragic twist. Will Annie ever see Winger as anyone but her “adorable” best friend? Will JP and Winger reconcile? WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END? Read and find out, buddies.

Subject Headings

Young Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Humor, Tragedy, Young Love, Boarding School


compelling, steady, easy, candid, darker, hopeful, gritty, foreboding, introspective, moving, playful, poignant, stark, unpretentious, detailed characters, eccentric, sympathetic characters, strong secondary characters, authentic, character-centered, issue-oriented, twists, strong language, rural, small-town, stark, contemporary, unembellished, vivid, witty.


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