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Brewster

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,154 ratings  ·  421 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, 288 pages
Published August 5th 2013 by W. W. Norton Company (first published August 1st 2013)
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,154 ratings  ·  421 reviews


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Geoff
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Carol
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-book, favorites
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
Diane S ☔
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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Cathrine ☯️
Objective merit 5★
Subjective merit 2★

So difficult to rate a book when it’s so well written yet I did not care for it. There were sentences that went something like: Parents don’t always love their kids—there are no guarantees. That's heartbreak waiting to happen, particularly if those children are despised. This is a boys on the cusp of adulthood story. No cheap shots or extra drama here, excellent writing, 60s-70s nostalgia, and families that define tragic, dysfunctional childhoods with the con
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
If this novel does not win at least one major literary award, then the entire notion of writing prizes is meaningless.
Snotchocheez
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing

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
...more
Laura Leaney
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Camie
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This fictional alternately beautiful and brutal coming of age tale narrated by Jon Mosher looking back on his high school days (1968) in Brewster , New York, contains its own soundtrack. With the likes of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, The Rolling Stones, and somewhere in there the Beatles whispering "Let It Be" in the background , Jon, a 16 year old track star and his best friend Ray a darker rebellious type, both of whom will encounter serious setbacks ,try to navigate this tumultuous time a ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Elyse Walters
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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/Conversations...in 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
Jill
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Andy Miller
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
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Dan
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
First things first: This didn't get five stars just because it has a great title (the title didn't hurt!)

This is a poignant and moving tale of life in high school in a small town, about the friendships, dreams, and realities of such a life. Being out of high school for now ten (!) years, it is sometimes easy for me to forget what things were like in those days, or how much influence parents had over what you did and didn't do. This book is an excellent reminder.

I was really surprised how much th
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Larry H
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jessica Jeffers
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
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
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Irene
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a powerfully emotional read. The narrator’s voice created true intimacy with the reader, drawing me into the circle of these young friends so that I could touch their pain, hope, grief, confusion, love. Never did this author need to tell the reader what to think or feel, rather he allowed us to accompany the characters and trusted the story to the reader. This is a coming of age story set in a working class town in the late 1960s, when private pain was hidden, domestic tragedies went un ...more
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: coming-of-age
A great coming of age book, I wrote a more in depth review of BREWSTER on Amazon. Slouka does a fine job with characters and plot.
Alison
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you need to feel better about your life circumstances, then read this book and you will instantly be grateful you don't live in Brewster with these guys. The writing style is a bit disjointed and the theme of domestic abuse and emotional neglect is tough to read. At first, Ray's tough-guy persona turned me off but as the novel progresses you come to understand why Ray has to put emotional walls around himself and by the end of the novel I felt so much compassion and sympathy for him. Jon, lik ...more
Sonia Reppe
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
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-
...more
Pamela
This quote from "Brewster" is certainly apropos: "Life isn't simple. Literature shouldn't be either." This novel has many layers, akin to that of an onion. Devouring this impacting book isn't advised as many deep-seeded elements and truths would be passed over, and the ultimate magnitude of this literary work would be greatly diminished. The very unfolding of this novel - jagged starts and stops, whirlwinds of action and moments of seemingly nothingness, no chapter numerations, pivoting time str ...more
Washington Post
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"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:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/enterta...
Ron Charles
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-favorites
Mark Slouka’s new novel is set in the late 1960s, not far from Woodstock, but you can’t feel any heat from the Summer of Love. Although the brooding teenagers in these pages listen to Jefferson Airplane and grouse about the Vietnam War, “Brewster” is about as psychedelic as a bruise. Instead, this is a masterpiece of winter sorrow, a tale of loss delivered in the carefully restrained voice of a man beyond tears.

Slouka, who lives in Brewster, N.Y., the town of the book’s title, is a contributing
...more
Laura
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
Dennis Jacob Rosenfeld
I'll do a longer review once I've finished my exams. For now I'll just say that out of the hundreds of coming-of-age and Bildungsromanen I've read, 'Brewster' is one of the best. Beautifully written and a heart wrenching gut punch of a novel
Christopher
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have to say, I almost didn't give this book five stars because there are a couple of events in this novel, and I will not mention them here, that were devastating, memorable that I wish I could forget but know that I never will.
That said, this is a remarkable book, a beautifully written work that I will be thinking about for a long time.
The writing alone is enough to read it. The dialogue is so well written, it could be an exercise for MFA students in how to.
I won't kid you, though. This is a
...more
Bert
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: orgasmic
Absolutely fucking brilliant.
Jenny
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Melanie
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
6-star. That's pretty much all that my brain is able to say right now.
Becky
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
...more
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Ray What? 3 29 Dec 23, 2014 06:00PM  

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Mark Slouka most recent books are the story collection All That Is Left Is All That Matters, the memoir Nobody’s Son, and the award-winning novel Brewster. His work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Essays, and the PEN / O. Henry Prize Stories. He lives in Prague.

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“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.” 13 likes
“Life isn't simple. Literature shouldn't be either.” 12 likes
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