Kaje Harper's Reviews > Stick

Stick by Andrew  Smith
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's review
Jun 25, 2012

really liked it
Read from September 09 to 12, 2012

4 Stars, maybe 4.5

This is an interesting and involving YA story. Stick, whose real name is Stark, is a young, tall teenager with a missing ear who feels alienated from most of the kids around him, other than his friend Emily. As the story opens, Stick finds himself on the cusp of many changes both internal, in how he feels about Emily and how he reacts to other people, and in the events occurring in his life. He and his older brother Bosten live with abusive parents. His mother is mostly cold, disengaged and rigid. His father hands out most of the physical abuse. The boys cling to each other as the only real family they have. But their parents are fighting with each other, Stick is facing a dizzying onset of adolescence, and then discovers that Bosten is gay and in love with his best friend. This isn't a problem for Stick, other than putting another person in Bosten's heart, with a small impact on the closeness between him and his brother. But the adults around them are not likely to be as accepting. It turns out to be impossible for them to protect each other from the fallout of those changes.

This is written from Stick's POV, with occasion short sections written in the slightly disjointed way phrases sometimes come to him, heard only through one ear. It works very well, and the voice felt very authentic for a fourteen year old boy. A lot happens in this story, in both emotional and plot terms, sometimes almost too much, but the author makes it work. Stick's slightly matter-of-fact narrative tone keeps the story from plunging into melodrama, while conveying emotion well. The ending is hopeful, but a bit uncertain, which is realistic. Bosten's journey is darker than Stick's, and because this is the younger brother's book one gets only glimpses of what Bosten has gone through and how far he has yet to go. I'd love to read a sequel that would take away that lingering anxiety I have for Bosten's future, but it says something for how clearly the characters are portrayed that he remains in my mind well after the book is done. Definitely worth the read.
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