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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  1,056 ratings  ·  269 reviews
A powerful story about an unforgettable friendship between two teenage boys and their hopes for escape from a dead-end town.

The year is 1968. The world is changing, and sixteen-year-old Jon Mosher is determined to change with it. Racked by guilt over his older brother’s childhood death and stuck in the dead-end town of Brewster, New York, he turns his rage into victories r...more
Hardcover, 283 pages
Published August 5th 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published August 1st 2013)
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Warning: this is a guy’s review for guys. Men aren’t supposed to read novels, but it’s been documented that doing so won’t actually kill us. So sensitive souls take note, this review contains some violence and adult language.

First a question: did you ever read Catcher in the Rye? If so, did you wish you could seriously bust up Holden Caulfield with a baseball bat? What a dumb-assed prick! Recommendation: Brewster is the antidote to that other book. This too is a coming of age story, but minus th...more
This is an emotionally powerful, beautifully written and devastating story of a deep (but unlikely) friendship between two young men as they attempt to break free from Brewster, a cold and isolating blue- collar town in New York state. The narrator is Jon Mosher, the son of Jewish survivors of a Nazi concentration camp. After a tragic death of his older brother when he was 4, his parents simply shut down…never recovered. He mostly drifts through school until eventually forming an intense bond wi...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
If this novel does not win at least one major literary award, then the entire notion of writing prizes is meaningless.
switterbug (Betsey)
BREWSTER reads like a melancholy ballad sung by Leonard Cohen, Dylan, or Bruce Springsteen. It's like driving down a remote, one-lane dark road surrounding a black reservoir, the starless sky doomy and vast. You are headed toward a forgotten city. Now and then a beacon in the distance blinks like a metronomic eye. Brewster is a static town in upstate New York, where it always feels like winter, "weeks-old crusts of ice covering the sidewalks and the yards, a gray, windy sky, smoke torn sideways...more
Laura Leaney
If you're over the age of forty, you probably remember a time without cell phones, computers, and politically correct teachers and parents. Perhaps you remember what it was like to be a child without adults hovering above you, waving a complex daily agenda of sports and extracurricular activities that included themselves. In your youth, back in those days, maybe you were relatively free, because your parents were living their own tragic lives and you felt like an outsider. It's a little weird to...more
Diane S.
Late 60's, in a small town called Brewster in New York, three boys and a young girl come of age. Charles Manson was in the news, being drafted for the Vietnam War was a real threat and Woodstock was happening a short distance away, these were circumstances happening outside their homes, but the real threat and the hurt would come from the place they should have been the safest, their own homes.

I was very young during this time period but I remember my best friend's brother being drafted, seeing...more
BREWSTER is both familiar and unique at the same time – a tough feat to pull out. As a coming-of-age story, it falls into that time-honored genre that includes books such as This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff, Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, Stand by Me by Stephen King…and you can almost hear Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run playing in the background.

It’s hard to bring something new to the time-honored coming-of-age story, particularly one that’s set in the late 1960s, where everything has become...more
Jessica Jeffers
It’s really hard, I think, to write a book where it feels like almost nothing significant is happening and yet the reader does not want to stop turning to pages.

Mark Slouka’s pulled that off with Brewster, a slow burning book about sixteen-year-old Jon Mosher growing up in late 60s upstate New York. Jon’s parents never got over the death of his brother twelve years earlier, which leaves him feeling very isolated and disconnected. He is recruited for the track team and becomes determined to prov...more
Rene Kirkpatrick
Oh, my god. Okay, this was absolutely brilliant but a book you should read in the daylight. And in the summer. Reading Brewster in January, in the cold, dark days of winter really put me in Brewster, walking and running (and fighting) right along with Jon, Ray, and Karen. Every cut on my body stung with cold, every deep breath in made me wheeze. Huh. Good writer.

Brewster is the story of 4 friends told by Jon, a boy who's been living with his dead brother hung around his neck for the last 15 year...more
Washington Post
"Brewster" is a masterpiece of winter sorrow, a tale of loss delivered in the carefully restrained voice of a man beyond tears. Readers will find quiet wisdom and muted prose that practically mock the pyrotechnics of our hottest novelists.

Read our review:
Larry Hoffer
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

Just because the plot of a book seems familiar doesn't necessarily mean it won't be compelling or lack emotional power. In the case of Mark Slouka's wonderful new novel, Brewster, you may have seen similar stories, but even though you may know where the plot will go or how the characters develop, you'll still find yourself completely invested, which is a testament to the power of Slouka's writing.

It's 1968, and the world is on the verge of major change. In the small dead-...more
Mark Slouka's writing and his vision are nothing but brilliant. I devoured this novel in a a trance. Filled with richness. Slouke reaches deep into the souls of his characters and makes them live.

Moments/Quotes/ the story which were favorites:

1) "Das Leben ist nicht einfach. Die Literature, sollte, es auch nicht sein. (German)

Or in English:
"Life isn't simple. Literature shouldn't be either"

2)"Hey, fuck you, I can sit where I want. What're you, the bleachers cops?"
"Yeah, you...more
Sonia Reppe
The scenes are short and the 1st-person voice is kind-of streamy and hard to understand sometimes.
He was right, life wasn't simple. Parts of it were--a frog scratching its head like a dog, the clean, heavy weight of a bolt in your hand, certain songs--and you'd try to hold on to these but you couldn't hold on for long. Things would get complicated, and the more you thought about them, the more complicated they got.

It's hard to explain about her. It's like trying to describe the smell of fresh-
Andy Miller
I'm in a minority, most reviews from the New York Times to the vast majority of Goodreads reviewers loved this coming of age novel set in 1968 upstate New York. I found that his writing style of choppy paragraphs, short chapters and cliche flashbacks to the sixties resulted in an unrealistic and not very compelling plot about superficial characters

The novel is narrated by Jon, a high school student who lives with his two parents who escaped from the Holocaust and lost their other son to a freaki...more
6-star. That's pretty much all that my brain is able to say right now.
Absolutely fucking brilliant.
Julie Ekkers
Brewster is a beautiful, heartbreaking coming-of-age novel about the friendship between two teenage boys, Jon and Ray, each enduring tragically difficult circumstances in their respective homes until they can escape. Whether they will, and whether Jon will realize the truth of Ray's situation, makes for a suspenseful narrative that unfolds at a deft pace in taut, graceful, and powerful prose. The reader knows he's hurtling to a painful finish, but he can't imagine what it will look like. Jon is...more
Laura Whitmer
Ok, I don't know who picks the Booker list but both Mark Slouka and Anthony Marra (A Constellation of Vital Phenomena) got robbed this year!

Brewster is one of those books you finish reading and slump back dejectedly in your chair and let the air whoosh out in a big sad sigh because its so beautiful and its over and there's nothing left to read.

This is the only book by Mark Slouka I've read so far, and for me, it was as if one crossed the darkside of Gillian Flynn with the poet prose of David Wr...more
Picked this up from the library on the off-chance of something good and was well rewarded. An excellent tale and a thoroughly good read. Highly recommended.
I cannot express how much I loved this book. So many things to love about it, the slice of time so perfectly captured, the late 60's references, the music references, I loved it all. The story seemed so real and so unbelievable at the same time. This book has stopped me in my busy life and made me think (and cry). I will be pushing this book on everyone I know and I will be reading more from Mark Slouka.
Anne Frisbie
Wow. A very moving and emotionally draining book. Even the remembered good times are only brief distractions from the overwhelming sense of dread and loss.

The underbelly of the late 1960s seen through teenage eyes from a small town on the wrong side of the tracks.
Brianne Sperber
A gorgeously written and immensely affecting coming of age story. Jon Mosher, the child of German immigrants, grows up in Brewster in 1968, around the time of the town's gentrification. Race relations and racism set an underlying tone. Jon's rejected by many because of his foreign-ness, until he meets two unlikely friends and forms a bond with them. In high school, a teacher almost blackmails him to join the track and cross country teams, where Jon finds the most solace and personal achievements...more
Fred Misurella
I just finished reading this novel and still feel the mixed emotions I had all through it. The writing is very uneven, occasionally poetic and moving, but just as often strained and very muddled. Whole paragraphs are written where pronouns like he, him, and them have no clear references, where metaphors are garbled and/or forced, and where dialogue is written with an implied shrug and a "You know what I mean?" hunch to the shoulders. I supposed that's justified by the story's characters being te...more
Many thanks to W.W. Norton and Company for giving me the chance to read and review this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.

In a way, Brewster kind of reminded me of the book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Both are from a teen male POV, both are set in older time periods, both are coming-of-age stories, and the main characters are sort of similar.

The thing that makes Brewster different is that there are different internal conflicts and most of the story centers around Jon and his frie...more
Wow. That's the summation of all the things I had to say after finishing this book.

I've waited a day to write this review, knowing that in writing one immediately after finishing this novel would result in a tear-stained rant, using the word 'tour de force' and 'emotional powerhouse' more than once.

Although I will admit, it did take me a while to get into this book. Off the bat, I liked the main character, I liked his voice, but I wasn't sure where the story was going. I wasn't sure that I care...more
Brewster was my latest book from my Indiespensables subscription and I was hopeful, yet tentative, after struggling through the previous installment. I was more than pleased – I was amazed, captivated, enthralled, humbled.

Brewster is an amazing story, beautifully written, about two boys growing up in small town Brewster, NY in 1968. When Jon is four, his older brother dies due to a freak accident, and his parents, survivors of the Holocaust, disconnect, moving into a permanent state of mourning,...more
Damage comes in many forms and Slouka uses highly nuanced prose to explore this theme as he tells a story of friendship, loyalty and coming of age. Slouka employs an incredible economy of language and readers will be well served by taking their time in letting this story unfold and absorbing the beautiful prose. The novel is framed by Jon's narrative as an adult looking back on his years with Ray and initially sounds very nostalgic, but it doesn't take long before his voice shifts ever-so-subtly...more
Disappointing. The reviews of this book suggested something powerful and affecting, but I just found the style of the writing to be difficult and unengaging. The idea of the story is quite strong, as are the characters and events, but it seemed to lack an easy flow, jumping from one thought to another and introducing far too much information at one time. I think that "coming of age" stories are okay, but they tend to work better when you can relate to the people and places. In this book, I felt...more
Wendy Bauer
A must-read. I just finished it--could not put it down. It was wonderful. Set in Brewster, NY, but it reminded me a lot of my hometown (in NJ). Lots of similar families (thankfully not mine!)--high school-age kids trapped in painful family situations. You knew it wouldn't end well.

I felt the author really captured the mood and spirit of the time (just before to just after Woodstock) and place. I am a little younger than the kids in the novel (not much!), but it felt just right.

I usually bypass t...more
Liz Ellen Vogan
Right off the bat, I was in, and I knew I was in deep. Convincing, assured, paced...Jon was real, and I knew this was going to be a a hell of a story. I learned just what I needed to know about all the characters in this novel--no more, no less--but always the exact amount I needed and when I needed it. The dialogue rang so true, and Jon's perceptions so spot-on, that every sentence felt like a gift. It was like having scattered impressions of things I'd experienced before or thought about conde...more
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Ray What? 2 19 Dec 31, 2013 04:47PM  
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Mark Slouka is the author of four previous works of fiction including Lost Lake, a New York Times Notable Book, and The Visible World, a finalist for the British Book Award. His 2011 essay collection, "Essays from the Nick of Time," was the winner of the PEN/Diamonstein-Speilvogel Award. A contributing editor at Harper’s, Slouka’s work has also appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best America...more
More about Mark Slouka...
The Visible World God's Fool Essays from the Nick of Time: Reflections and Refutations Lost Lake: Stories Essentialism

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“Life isn't simple. Literature shouldn't be either.” 9 likes
“Every step you take, a million doors open in front of you like poppies; your next step closes them, and another million bloom. You get on a train, you pick up a lamp, you speak, you don’t. What decides why one thing gets picked to be the way it will be? Accident? Fate? Some weakness in ourselves? Forget your harps, your tin-foil angels—the only heaven worth having would be the heaven of answers.” 6 likes
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