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.
Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications with the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics. 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.
Ryan Dean West’s life is complicated.
“Joey told me nothing ever goes back exactly the way it was, that things expand and contract–like breathing, but you could never fill your lungs up with the same air twice.”
Ryan Dean is starting a new life this year. He is going to re-invent himself. How? Well, even Ryan Dean doesn’t know that–yet.
I have never read any novels by Andrew Smith before, but Winger was exceptionally good. The plot was excellently executed, the drawings were hilarious, and the narration was superb. I found myself laughing hysterically on numerous occasions at the many awkward and entertaining situations that Ryan Dean would suddenly find himself right in the middle of. Catastrophic penis injury? Check. Curse by a demented resident counselor? Right on.
“There are plenty of words I can put on paper, words I can see with my eyes and scribble with my hand, that I never had the guts to say with my mouth.”
Winger is a guy’s book. Sure, it is great for any reader who loves young adult novels, but the humor, pain, awkwardness, and horrible doctor visits are everything that only a guy could understand. It is filled with sports, over-the-line raunchy dialogue, and the most despicable practical jokes you could think of.
It was a good laugh, but Andrew Smith wouldn’t let his readers stay happy for too long. Just as things were looking up for Ryan Dean and his friends, a dark twist overcame the novel that sent a shock right down my spine. I can truly say I wasn’t even prepared for it–that is until I read back to the very first lines of the book and could sense the impending foreshadowing.
“The same words that make the horrible things come also tell the quieter things about love.”
In the end, the book did take a turn down a darker path, but I believe that Smith handled it wonderfully. I was overcome with great sadness but plagued with a sense of elation at the very same time. He maintained an exceptional plot throughout and left me wanting to start the book from the beginning again.
Correction: Ryan Dean West’s life was complicated.