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Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
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U 50x66
's review
May 07, 2012

really liked it

This book was better than I thought it would be.
First off, it has great funny moments, which rescues anything. Moments such as this laff-bomb on page 9:
" 'Life,' my father had once said, 'is all about settling.' Unfortunately, he'd said that right in front of Mom, who proceeded to serve him a peanut butter and onion sandwich for dinner that night."
Whenever the drama gets too intense, Shusterman lightens it up enough for YA fic with riots like these.
This is not a setting-focused book. Principally, it is character-centered, then comes the excellent plot. It's told from four 1st person views, and they're each quite distinct, but the brother and sister's POVs are fittingly similar without blurring the line between them. Hm. The more I think about this the better it gets. I hate being told storyline in a review, but you have to know that this is about a brother-and-sister team with parents in a struggling marriage (they're English majors and so named their kids Bronte and Tennyson - genius!). The sister becomes friends, and doesn't fall head-over-heels in love with (me appreciate!!) a shady guy named Brewster who lives with his uncle and little brother on a dilapidated piece of property. Brewster has bruises ALL over him. Of course, you jump to the conclusion his alcoholic uncle is beating on him. But there's much more to it. He has the power to take hurt away from people he cares about and put it on himself - but it happens automatically.
This book turns out to be a deep delve into human character. Shusterman effectively reveals the evil selfishness inside all of us. I can't say the ending was satisfactory, but the ride was thought-provoking and funny at the same time. It wasn't a totally dark book. It was believable and the characters were each real and the plot flowed well. It was actually a bit eye-opening in the sense that you get a big picture of 'good people', but you slowly start to see their own desires to be hurt-free driving their 'goodness'. You slowly start to wonder, am I like that? Am I that afraid of hurting so that I would choose to not feel anything instead?
Because of mature themes and some kissing stuff, I suggest this for older teen readers. But I suggest it. I sure do.

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