Winger by Andrew Smith

Title: Winger
Series: Winger #1
Author: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Pages: 439
Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:
Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.


This book broke my heart in two. Here I am, enjoying 400 pages of Ryan Dean West antics, giggling over the comedic sketches, and wondering what stupid thing he is going to do next that will result in him getting his ass kicked when BAM, Andrew Smith throws a 92mph curveball that hits me square in the chest. There might have been tears.

On the surface, this book is about a 14-year-old boy at prep school, navigating the trials of adolescence, thinking and acting as 14-year-olds do. He also happens to be two years ahead in school, which doesn't make his life any easier. But he vows that this year is going to be different, despite landing himself in the dorm for troublemakers and starting the year with his head in a toilet. He starts making moves on the girl he’s been crushing on, starts standing up for himself and his friends, and starts taking risks that he was too scared to take before. Of course this is cause for all sorts of mayhem and one very entertaining book.

But the ending made me realize that this book was about so much more than I originally thought and is what ultimately made this a 4.5 star read for me. Although it came at a steep price. :(

Although I am not, nor was I ever, a 14-year-old boy, the voice of Ryan Dean West felt very authentic. I really felt like I was in the head of a 14 year old. Andrew Smith's writing is perfect. And it was funny! And there were illustrations (see below)!! I might have rolled my eyes at some of the silliness (in a totally endearing, big-sister kind of way) but I spent most of my time smiling and laughing and eagerly awaiting whatever mess Ryan Dean would find himself in next. Ryan Dean West totally won me over <3

And there was a big emphasis on friendship and team unity that I just loved.

I don't know if I've done this book justice. I struggled to find the right words for this one. But it's a new favorite of mine and I highly recommend it, if you haven't yet read it. This is truly a unique and wonderful story told in a unique and wonderful way. I can't wait to continue Ryan Dean's story in Stand-off.

And below is an example of one of the many illustrations you will find in this book :)

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