Book Review: Winger


Winger by Andrew Smith
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 434
Released: May 14 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars


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.


My thoughts are a jumbled mess right now so I hope this review makes even a little bit of sense. Winger is a great book but in a lot of ways it totally missed the mark. Let me break it down:

So when the story starts out, we’re introduced to this 14 year old kid Ryan Dean West who it seems just hit puberty because the entire book is him talking about his balls, his pee and how hot every girl is. And yes it really is as crude as it sounds but for some reason, it actually works. Ryan Dean West is not a lovable protagonist, he’s the kind that you just shake your head at and hang on for the ride while having a few laughs along the way.

Winger is a hilarious book and I spent most of it literally laughing out loud. Our protagonist is probably the most lewd 14 year old in the history of the world but he’s 14 so it’s cute (or so we’re told). If all teenage boys think like this kid I’m seriously worried.

We don’t get many male protagonists these days (or I’m probably reading the wrong books) but there is obviously something distinctly different (in a good way) about male leads that brings something fresh to the ya genre

I’m not giving this book 5 stars because the author did a very poor job with the ending of the story. Without spoiling much I’ll say that the tone of the book at some point shifted very suddenly and I think the author was trying to be profound or whatever but it just ended up falling really flat.

This book kinda reminded me of Looking for Alaska in a hazy squint-one-eye-and-cock-your-head kind of way. I can’t help comparing the two authors and feeling like John Green did a better job of expressing a teen boys thoughts on school, girls, friendship, love and loss).


P.S. I cannot tell you how glad I am to see rugby in an actual book; not football, not basketball and definitely not freaking hocky!

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