Monday, August 15, 2011

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman is one of my very favorite authors for teenagers and, while very different from his other books, Bruiser was a real treat. I didn't know what to expect because all of the reviews I read tried so hard not to give away what the book is really about. I couldn't even tell if it was realistic or a fantasy until I read it (and I'm still not so sure how I could classify it now that I've read it!) Four characters narrate this book: Brewster aka "Bruiser," a high school boy with no friends and a reputation for being dangerous and violent, Bronte, the nice, normal girl who falls in love with Brewster, Tennyson, Bronte's twin brother who at first is adamantly against his sister dating "Bruiser," and Cody, Brewster's 8-year-old brother. Brewster and Cody live with a sometimes-cruel uncle who forces them to keep to themselves and to form no relationships. Once Bronte and Brewster find each other, though, Brewster begins forging relationships with people with disastrous consequences for himself. SPOILER ALERT—don't read more if you don't want to know why. The truth is that Brewster has a gift (or a curse, depending on how you look at it). He takes away the pain of those he cares about—both physical and emotional. His body is a wreck and getting worse with every injury those around him sustain. The deeper he gets involved with Bronte's family the harder the toll is on his body and spirit. It's a good story with complex characters, and, as always with Neal Shusterman's books, there's a whole other deeper layer to talk about and think about. Recommended for 8th-12th grades.

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