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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 ...
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 infographics 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.
"Winger is one of the most honest and beautifully raw novels I've read in a long time. Ryan Dean is a true original."
* "[A] brutally honest coming-of-age novel...Like puberty itself, this tale is alternately hilarious and painful, awkward and enlightening...an excellent, challenging read."
* "Smart, wickedly funny...In a magnificently frenetic first-person narration that includes clever short comics, charts and diagrams...Smith deftly builds characters—readers will suddenly realize they’ve effortlessly fallen in love with them—and he laces meaning and poignantly real dialogue into uproariously funny scatological and hormonally charged humor, somehow creating a balance between the two that seems to intensify both extremes. Bawdily comic but ultimately devastating, this is unforgettable."
* "This deceptively lightweight novel packs an unexpectedly ferocious punch."
"Amusing and touching in a “Looking for Alaska,” meets Rabelais meets “Friday Night Lights” kind of way.”
My name is Ryan Dean West.
Ryan Dean is my first name.
You don’t usually think a single name can have a space and two capitals in it, but mine does. Not a dash, a space. And I don’t really like talking about my middle name.
I also never cuss, except in writing, and occasionally during silent prayer, so excuse me up front, because I can already tell I’m going to use the entire dictionary of cusswords when I tell the story of what happened to me and my friends during my eleventh-grade year at Pine Mountain.
PM is a rich kids’ school. But it’s not only a prestigious rich kids’ school; it’s also for rich kids who get in too much trouble because they’re alone and ignored while their parents are off being congressmen or investment bankers or professional athletes. And I know I wasn’t actually out of control, but somehow Pine Mountain decided to move me into Opportunity Hall, the dorm where they stuck the really bad kids, after they caught me hacking a cell phone account so I could make undetected, untraceable free calls.
They nearly kicked me out for that, but my grades saved me.
I like school, anyway, which increases the loser quotient above and beyond what most other kids would calculate, simply based on the whole two-years-younger-than-my-classmates thing.
The phone was a teacher’s. I stole it, and my parents freaked out, but only for about fifteen minutes. That was all they had time for. But even in that short amount of time, I did count the phrase “You know better than that, Ryan Dean” forty-seven times.
To be honest, I’m just estimating, because I didn’t think to count until about halfway through the lecture.
We’re not allowed to have cell phones here, or iPods, or anything else that might distract us from “our program.” And most of the kids at PM completely buy in to the discipline, but then again, most of them get to go home to those things every weekend. Like junkies who save their fixes for when there’s no cops around.
I can understand why things are so strict here, because it is the best school around for the rich deviants of tomorrow. As far as the phone thing went, I just wanted to call Annie, who was home for the weekend. I was lonely, and it was her birthday.
I already knew that my O-Hall roommate was going to be Chas Becker, a senior who played second row on the school’s rugby team. Chas was as big as a tree, and every bit as smart, too. I hated him, and it had nothing to do with the age-old, traditional rivalry between backs and forwards in rugby. Chas was a friendless jerk who navigated the seas of high school with his rudder fixed on a steady course of intimidation and cruelty. And even though I’d grown about four inches since the end of last year and liked to tell myself that I finally—finally!—didn’t look like a prepubescent minnow stuck in a pond of hammerheads like Chas, I knew that my reformative dorm assignment with Chas Becker in the role of bunk-bed mate was probably nothing more than an “opportunity” to go home in a plastic bag.
But I knew Chas from the team, even though I never talked to him at practice.
I might have been smaller and younger than the other boys, but I was the fastest runner in the whole school for anything up to a hundred meters, so by the end of the season last year, as a thirteen-year-old sophomore, I was playing wing for the varsity first fifteen (that’s first string in rugby talk).
Besides wearing ties and uniforms, all students were required to play sports at PM. I kind of fell into rugby because running track was so boring, and rugby’s a sport that even small guys can play—if you’re fast enough and don’t care about getting hit once in a while.
So I figured I could always outrun Chas if he ever went over the edge and came after me. But even now, as I write this, I can still remember the feeling of sitting on the bottom bunk, there in our quiet room, just staring in dread at the door, waiting for my roommate to show up for first-semester check-in on that first Sunday morning in September.
All I had to do was make it through the first semester of eleventh grade without getting into any more trouble, and I’d get a chance to file my appeal to move back into my room with Seanie and JP in the boys’ dorm. But staying out of trouble, like not getting killed while living with Chas Becker, was going to be a full-time job, and I knew that before I even set eyes on him.
Posted August 10, 2013
If you're a fan of John Green, read this book. If you want to laugh long and hard, read this book. It will make you laugh, it will rip your heart into a million pieces, and it will make you wish it will never end. For people who enjoy a great, heartfelt, hilarious, and deep story, get Winger as soon as you can. You will NOT regret it.
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Posted August 19, 2014
This book had me begging on my knees for more when i finished reading it! I wouldnt know what to do if i havent found this book anf if you are even thinking of getting the book, you NEED it in hard cover because of the awsome cover ans spine!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 19, 2014
Posted August 2, 2014
Wow. Just...wow. This book is freaking brilliant. I mean it. I think this is top 5 for this year, if not all time, and is most definitely the most heartbreaking this year if not all time.
So one of the best things Winger has got going for it is it's male pov written by a male. This ship is real, y'all (unlike Ryan Dean, I try not to swear, even in my writing)! I mean, Ryan Dean is just such a....boy. A teenage boy at that. I had no trouble believing all the ridiculous things he thinks, says, and does throughout the novel. Peeing in a gatorade bottle rather than going to the bathroom? Check. Being pervy with every female character in the book, particularly in his thoughts? Check. Ryan Dean is really astute and a remarkably good narrator, but he's also straight-up dumb sometimes, but that's okay because it fits so well with reality as well as the world of the book.
See, when Ryan Dean is acting like a hormonal idiot, Andrew used his other characters to take up the slack. There's Joey Cosentino: the Voice of Reason. Joey's job is to point out every time Ryan Dean is being stupid, but he always has RD's back, on the rugby field and off, and I have nothing but respect for him. He's a Nice Guy, but he's not above getting dirty to defend himself or calling someone out when they need to be put in place.
Annie: the Best Friend/Love Interest. It's way cool seeing Annie face reality when it comes to her relationship with Ryan Dean. I, being a girl who at one time was sixteen, innately know what's going on in Annie's head so it's way cool understanding her thoughts while actually reading from Ryan Dean's mind.
Chas: the Hostile Roommate & Teammate/Romantic Competition. Chas's purpose really confused me during much of the novel, but his presence actually puts Ryan Dean into the role of bad guy at one point, which forces the reader and Ryan Dean to actively acknowledge his fault. Also, Chas is instrumental to the resolution of Ryan Dean's story.
Seanie (the Comic Relief, insofar as sometimes Ryan Dean has to be serious for a secondf) and JP (the Other Romanic Competition). I didn't care a whole whole lot for them because Seanie is just an oddball and JP is a douche, but we see Ryan Dean in a different light because of them. Ryan Dean makes a lot of mistakes, and Seanie and JP are kind of the collateral damage.
There's Megan: Love Interest/Temptation. While Annie is spending her time wrestling with her feelings for Ryan Dean, Megan decisively chooses to spend some quality time with Ryan Dean pressed up against the water fountain. Megan helps Ryan Dean transform into the Wild Boy of Bainbridge Island.
Casey: the Bully. Grade A douchenozzle. His presence gives Ryan Dean the opportunity to be both the victim and the hero.
The characters are all great. The story, at least at first, was a bit slow for me, but it picks up. I thought Winger was supposed to be just a funny novel. And it really is a hilarious look at Ryan Dean trying to fit in at his school, trying to navigate the waters of romance, trying to not die either on the rugby field (by an opponent OR teammate because it was touch-and-go sometimes), trying not to be cursed by Ms. Singer. Winger reads like a journal with Ryan Dean frequently breaking the fourth wall to talk to the reader, rating things on his ridiculous scales like my rating above, and drawing awesome cartoons. Seriously, the drawings add an awesome artistic element. I really hope this trend gets a kickstart because I love it.
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