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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  1,455 ratings  ·  334 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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 5th 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published August 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

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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
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
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

4.5 stars

Brewster, New York, circa 1970: a dead-end town a mere reefer-whiff away from Woodstock and the "Summer of Love" (yet worlds apart from the goings-on there) provides the backdrop for this rather stunning not-quite-YA-coming-of-age novel Brewster by Mark Slouka.

It focuses on the unlikely friendship between Jon Mosher, a rather bright, earnest kid living with a family long trapped in stasis mode (thanks to the tragic death of his older brother) who resorts to running with the high school
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
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
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-
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
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
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:
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-
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
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
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.
Julie Ehlers
I was expecting to like this novel. I received it as part of my Powell's Indiespensable subscription, so it was already pre-vetted by the trustworthy Powell's staff. And, having lived for many years in nowheresville myself, I'll always be interested in novels that take place there.

So it was with an odd disconnect that I began to realize that I didn't really like this very much at all. The themes were straight out of an after-school special: the withholding immigrant parents; the abusive alcoholi
After the first couple of chapters, the writing is on the wall. Even the most optimistic reader couldn't possibly expect a happy ending to this bleak coming-of-age tale. Which is fine, because that's life, but it does make for a pretty excruciating read. Best friends Jon and Ray are lovable characters, so for the last hundred pages I just wanted Slouka to let tragedy strike and have it over with.

Both boys come from unhappy homes. While I thought Ray's violent drunk of a father verged on caricat
Brewster is a raw coming-of-age story. Set in the late 1960s in the USA, it’s a story of growing up in a small town. It’s about boys becoming men, it’s about finding your identity and it’s about the pain we live through. This is a hard review to write because this book is so good. It moved me. It kind of haunts me. It has a power all of its own.

Jon is the protagonist and he tells the story. I guess he’s looking back and recounting this time in his life. A time when his life felt anything but lib
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
Abigail Sweinhart
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
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,
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Ray What? 3 23 Dec 23, 2014 06:00PM  
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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.” 10 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.” 9 likes
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