Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sway” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Excerpt


3.60  ·  Rating details ·  3,935 ratings  ·  748 reviews
In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want---term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactio ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published September 1st 2014)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sway, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kat Spears Sorry, but I don't think I could do another book in Jesse's voice. A few people have requested a sequel told from Joey's point of view. That could hap…moreSorry, but I don't think I could do another book in Jesse's voice. A few people have requested a sequel told from Joey's point of view. That could happen. I'm so glad you loved SWAY. Thanks for that.(less)
kate s It leaves off with that possibility. She seems to fall for him even though he's a terrible person and should not be the hero of the story, and even th…moreIt leaves off with that possibility. She seems to fall for him even though he's a terrible person and should not be the hero of the story, and even though she deserves way better. It's a terrible ending in my opinion. It would be better if she dropped both losers and went on to live her life without them.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,935 ratings  ·  748 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sway
Aj the Ravenous Reader
Jesse or more popularly known as “Sway” is your super sleek high school super hero without superpowers except for his innate coolness and unrivaled wit, everybody either wants to be friends with him or wants to be him. He is the man of every hour, the guy you go to when you want the impossible to happen.
- Nerdy guy wants to get laid? Pay Sway.
- Student body president has to raise funds? Pay Sway.
- School Principal needs a problem student kicked out? Pay Sway.

I’m sure you get the idea. Sway is a
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“Sway isn’t something you can define. A dude who’s got sway is the man—doesn’t have to try to be cool, just … is. Jesse’s as cool as the underside of my pillow. He’s so slick, he could convince you that I’m white, have you believing it like it’s gospel.”

I read this a month ago and never wrote a review. Now I’m terrified I’m becoming Ron 2.0 *shudder*. Right about a month ago I also wrote a review where I said I love it when I’m the
Aug 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
What sounded like it was going to be a sweet, heartwearming contemporary YA retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac turned out to be a massive, massive disappointment.

There was absolutely nothing redeeming about this story, unless you like reading plots that barely exist and go absolutely nowhere, populated by characters that are as unlikeable as they are uninteresting and forgettable. Oh, and if you love reading seemingly endless slurs toward everyone from the mentally and physically disabled, to gay
Ash Wednesday
”The people who love you, and how often you shit. That’s all there is.”

So yeah, I’ve been slacking off the reading and reviewing the past few weeks and yeah, I’ve mostly been MIA, missing out on the long-awaited releases and being horribly late on my galleys… but let me tell you, goodreads allowing plain ratings to get votes will do WONDERS to my productivity.

Also, the politics around here can get a little stifling for the opinionated, unbiased voice, to be honest.

I was thoroughly
Brandy Painter
Apr 21, 2014 marked it as set-aside
I have a fairly high tolerance for realistically gritty YA. I can put up with a lot of talk about sex and drugs, and I have no fear of strong language even if I myself choose not to use those words (regularly). However, one thing I can not tolerate is lol-isn't-rape-funny. I wasn't particularly loving this book's style in the first place, but then I got to this part:

"Skinhead Rob freaks me out. I hate going to his place. And that pimply guy Grim always looks at me as if he wants to rape me."

Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is definitely not a typical contemporary romance, but I freaking loved it. The premise intrigued me when I first read it because it sounded like your average contemporary love story, and there is a love story, but this book is so much more than that.
I was apprehensive about a male narrator at first, but I really loved Jesse. I thought he was hilarious in a tragic sort of way. Also, he reminded me a bit of a boy version of Veronica Mars because he is really resourceful and sarcastic, a
Dean King
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an exciting debut novel, original, gripping, and always true to itself. From the first pages, you sense you are in the hands of a very talented writer, who knows and understands her characters like the back of her hand but allows them to live and breath on the page and sometimes to do things that make you cringe, because you're invested in their lives and want only the best for them. Spears is clever and wise. She never falters or pulls a false punch as the story sweeps you along to its ...more
Dec 05, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review also appears on my blog, Reading with Jenna.

I picked up Sway at the book store because the adorable cover and the synopsis suggested that it was going to be a cute, fluffy contemporary romance, which was just what I needed when I picked this book up. Sadly, it didn’t inspire anything but rage in me. (To be honest, the first line of the synopsis itself should have been ringing alarm bells in my head. “Often poignant”? I don’t understand. It either is or it isn’t.) But let me elaborate
Renée Ahdieh
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
so, me and contemp YA have had a tumultuous relationship, of late. i'll read something and adore it, eagerly ask my friends what to read now, and then be let down by the nextbigthing.

as a result, i approach hyped-up contemp with a bit of a side-eye.

that said, it took me a single sitting to finish SWAY. the voice is spectacular, and jesse is one of the best boy protags ever. basically, he's a mess, with swagger for days.

the plot clips along at a great pace, and i found myself completely swallowed
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
It would be so easy to give up on this book early on because of its offensive, manipulative, unemotional, jerk of a protagonist.

To do so would be a real shame because it's a great debut contemporary YA novel.

This isn't the story of how Jesse Alderman becomes a good guy. This isn't a story about a troubled teen who turns it all around in a miraculous and admirable 180-degree turn.

This is the story of someone who is flawed and problematic. This is the story of someone who is obsessed with power.
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I’m a grown adult and I flipping loved this book.

The story is told through the jaded eyes of Jesse, a senior in high school who can get you anything you need...or want, but for a price. Jesse is that weird combination of cynical yet friendly so he stays busy with jobs for everyone in his small town. Unexpectedly distracted by an angelic girl and her needy brother, Jesse finds friendship, love, and trouble. Not too gushy, but not too dry, Jesse’s story is a breath of fresh air in this young adul
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
wow! this books really blows me away. jesse is such jerk type of guy who is also a fixer.
the story is told from jesse point of view.

the author done a fantastic job delivering POV from male character. the only thing i do not like is bridget. she is too real to believe. she is a charac5er without a flaw. the more i read the more i dislike bridget.

i wish the ending could be different. i wish joey gets more fair share in this book.

anyway it is a great reading.
Looking for a book about highs and lows of high school from an unconventional angle? Look no further than Kat Spears young adult debut novel "Sway", an original, fresh and edgy look at high school life and romance. Spears captures the essence of high school in these pages. Her characters, especially her bad boy Jesse Alderman, whose Grinch-like heart unfreezes and grows two sizes, during the pages of this off beat romance, are vividly portrayed. If there is a downside to this book, it is that Sp ...more
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, read-in-2014
Okay, this book was not what I thought it was going to be. I guess I expected a YA romantic comedy or errors... but it has a lot more bite and edge to it. Which probably made me like it more. Like Bridget, I liked Jesse despite the fact that he doesn't really want anyone to like him. He's a bit like Shrek, with some Ferris Bueller and every role played by James Spader in any 1980's high school/college movie. Warning, Jesse will offend just about every reader ever with his insensitivity and vocab ...more
Kat (Lost in Neverland)

Jesse Alderman, his business name Sway, has connections. He makes his living off of people paying him for favors. They can be anything from getting the most popular girl in school to go out with the nerdiest boy, or getting university cheerleaders to take part in a school car wash to raise money for the student council. Or, now, to get Ken, renowned bully and dickhead, on a date with Bridget Smalley, a real-life angel.

While trying to find out more about her for Ken's sake, Jesse soon becomes co
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! Sway was such an arsehole to literally everyone he came in contact with - like this Rasputin / Machiavelli / Vicomte de Valmont hybrid. This was sold to me as a Cyrano de Bergerac story, but I don't remember CdB being such a wanker. Maybe I'm misremembering? Anyway, this book was a whole lot more fun (I quite like an offensive MC - see my review of Monsters by Emerald Fennell ).

The political machinations of high school were probably a bit more over the top than they a
Sara (sarabara081)
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs-i-have
You can find more of my reviews at Forever 17 Books.

I’ve had a copy of Sway for quite a long time so I’m happy I finally found the time to pick it up and see what it was all about. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I hoped.

Jesse, or Sway as many call him, is the guy who can get you things. Be it fake IDs, drugs, alcohol, a hot date, or even information. A speciality he is well known for among classmates and adults alike. When a popular football player requests his services to obta

There are some books that you can read the first couple pages and just know that you’re going to like it. Sway is definitely one of those books for me. But I didn’t just “like” it. I LOVED it!

By the time I finally received this book off my library’s waitlist, I had kind of forgotten what its plot was about. All I remembered was that it was a type of Cyrano retelling… and I love the story of Cyrano.

The story follows Jesse Alderman a.k.a. “Sway”. Jesse is the go-to-guy in his town. He’s connected
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If you're searching for an edgy teen novel narrated by a boy, Sway might be the book for you. I kind of loved it. Or, I loved Jesse.

I love bad boys, but bad boys aren't easy to get right. They shouldn't be smarmy, abusive, violent or cruel. Too many young adult authors write bad boys wrong, sending weird messages to young readers who think being afraid of a handsome boy is sexy. It isn't.

Kat Spears knows how to write a bad boy. It's possible she doesn't think Jesse's a bad boy at all, and that'
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I don't know what it is lately with these detached (supposedly), misbehaving male characters in YA books and why I like them so much, why I get sucked into their stories, but I do.
Jesse's a difficult character: he lies,deals drugs and doesn't exhibit much of a conscience or consideration for others. It's hard to see any good in him at first, but his character is still intriguing. His savvy, his "sway," is a little too flawless, the extent of his power unbelievable, but I was still very drawn to
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Do not let the cover fool you, this is not a fluffy book. Jesse's the definition of an antihero. He's an asshole and gets ahead by taking advantage of people. He's also super smart, snarky and maybe a little bit of a squishy marshmallow deep (deeeeeep) inside. I loved it.

Recommended for readers who aren't going to get hung up on a lack of morally upstanding MC.
Rebecca Lorraine
Aug 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Everyone seemed to really like this book, but for me it was just okay. Maybe it's not a fair rating having just come off a Throne of Glass marathon. I don't think any book would do good following that. ...more
Jennifer Mathieu
Complicated, authentic characters and a kick ass plot that kept me turning the pages. Win. Win. I loved this book, and I loved Jesse, aka "Sway." I'm so impressed in Spears's ability to create such a full, flawed, vulnerable, likeable/not likeable/still likeable character. Terrific debut. ...more
Sep 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ebooks
Okay, I hardly ever give books 1 star, but I just couldn't give Sway 2 stars ...

The book is all over the place. When I read the blurb I expected a light and romantic read. Instead we follow Jesse, douchebag number one, doing stupid and unbelievable things. I should've written down all the one-liners this guy had, most of the time I was like wtf then continued reading. His "love" for Bridget isn't the main thing in this book, which really bothered me. I feel like I've been misled by the blurb.

Oct 12, 2015 rated it did not like it


normally i give books i strongly dislike a 2/5 because there's some kind of redeeming quality. and i don't want to waste the shock power of a one or lower on this heap of offensiveness. but OH MY GOD I CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING I LIKED.

this book weaves a tale of woe: that of Jesse, asshole at large.

he suffers, this jesse. his life is so damn hard. he's a privileged, attractive, white male adolescent. he goes to the best school in the area. all
Jaime Arkin
3.5 stars

Jesse Alderman can manipulate anyone. If you need a term paper, he’s your guy. If you want a date with a certain girl… he can hook you up. If you want a fake ID, he’s got you covered. He’s got Sway… and that’s how he’s known… amongst his peers and even the school staff. Life is all about what you can do for people, and Jesse is the master at getting things he needs… but there’s always a price.

His secret is no emotion – business is business. His cynical nature and his ability to keep
Alanna (The Flashlight Reader)
Sep 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, 2014
This book. I don't even know what to think about it, really.

I cannot believe this is a first book by the author. There is no way. Her ability to create a voice in a character is unbelievable.

Jesse (Sway) is interesting. He is 100% rough around the edges and a bit hard to digest at times. When I started this book, I thought "Oh, Cyrano de Bergerac retelling. Awesome." I love that story. It's sweet, funny, and complicated in a nice rom-com kind of way, so obviously Sway was going to follow suit.
Jen Ryland
So my ARC has the old kissy-looking cover:

 photo images_zps7da4423b.jpeg

and I think changing that cover was a very good move because this isn't really a romance. The main character, Jesse, is amoral. He's offensive. He's conniving. But I have to say, he kind of grew on me. **

This is the closest I've ever seen a YA book come to a John Hughes movie -- the wacky mixed with the poignant, the characters that are so sharply drawn that they border on caricature. The ending was a touch too neat for me -- just like a movie.

I thin
Irreverent. Honest. Refreshing. Funny. Cover love.

"Everybody is putting on a show all the time. Nobody's real. Maybe you can't hide things about yourself like the way you walk or talk, but everyone is lying all the time about who they are, how they feel."

I adored Sway. The main character, Jesse, is the irreverent, cynical high school drug dealer, but what made him likable, was discerning his ability to care for others underneath all of his protective snarky armor. Jesse goes through high school
Aug 14, 2014 added it
I'm really conflicted about this story and how to rate it...

From a technical standpoint, it's well written, fast moving and an interesting take on Cyrano de Bergerac. However, Jesse was an incredibly difficult character to like. In fact, there was a lot about him and his behavior that bordered on offensive which is RARE for me as a reader.
(view spoiler)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Not After Everything
  • The One Thing
  • Zenn Diagram
  • Flight Season
  • Hidden Pieces
  • Tú, Nada Más
  • Nothing
  • Nonversation
  • Las reglas del boxeador (Las reglas del boxeador, #1)
  • El día que dejó de nevar en Alaska
  • No Love Allowed (Dodge Cove, #1)
  • La última nota
  • The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things
  • It Sounded Better in My Head
  • The Bad Boy's Heart (Bad Boy, #2)
  • What to Say Next
  • Culpa nuestra (Culpables #3)
  • Things I Should Have Known
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Kat Spears grew up moving every few years and is still looking for her hometown. Kat writes realistic, edgy, honest, sometimes heartbreaking, often funny books about and for young people. Being a teenager sucked for Kat, and she’s still trying to write her way out of it. She spends her free time rearing caterpillars, vacuuming up dog hair, and writing letters the old-fashioned way. Her favorite jo ...more

Related Articles

  Mateo Askaripour is a Brooklyn-based writer whose debut novel, Black Buck—which Colson Whitehead calls a “mesmerizing novel, executing a high...
76 likes · 8 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“If you don't ask me for much, I could spend the rest of my life trying to deserve you.” 13 likes
“There was no reason for me to think everything was about to change. That’s the way life happens, why you have to be able to see all the angles every time you make a choice. What’s true today might not be true tomorrow.” 7 likes
More quotes…