Ryan Dean West (aka “Winger” aka “West” aka “Asswing”) is a 14-year-old junior in high school and this is his year to remake himself in his own, better image. Not only is he the youngest kid in his class, but also one of the smartest, except when it comes to the opposite sex. Or anyone else for that matter. Regardless, Ryan Dean has a lot to figure out.
"Andrew Smith crafts something in WINGER that will have you thinking about the things you choose to say and those you leave unsaid."
Pine Mountain, his isolated boarding school in the Pacific Northwest, is a place of rules: wear your uniform, lights out at 10 o’clock, no facial hair (for the boys, at least) and so on and so on. And Ryan Dean is exiled to O-Hall, the dormitory for troublemakers, to live with one of the biggest jerks in the school. But for Ryan Dean, the benefits, such as rugby and crushing hard on his best friend Annie, outweigh many of the costs. If he could only figure out how to stop being such a huge loser (his word, not mine,) he might just squeeze a bit of fun out of the place.
As the school year ebbs and flows, Ryan Dean navigates his way through the social jungle of high school with a lot of help from his friends, even if he loses a few along the way.
WINGER is a character. The reader is offered an all-access pass into the sometimes-depraved mind of this teenager and while there is a ton to laugh at in his saga, you’ll groan just as much as you giggle at this guy’s bizarre thoughts and logical leaps. The book is interspersed with drawings created by Ryan Dean, graphing his emotions, illustrating his sexual fantasies with comic book-like flair and adding another layer of personality to what could already be read as a piece of diary fiction.
Andrew Smith crafts something in WINGER that will have you thinking about the things you choose to say and those you leave unsaid. While Ryan Dean’s simultaneous self-aggrandizement and self-deprecation can be a bit grating at times, the message of this novel should resonate deeply for anyone who sometimes gets trapped in their own head.
Reviewed by Dave Franklin on May 12, 2013
- Publication Date: May 14, 2013
- Genres: Young Adult 12+
- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
- ISBN-10: 1442444924
- ISBN-13: 9781442444928