Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Tennyson doesn’t really like the Bruiser. He’s weird, standoffish, and just a huge bulk of nothing. But when his sister Bronte begins dating the Bruiser, that’s when Tenny’s had enough. The only way to break them up is to confront the guy, and that’s what Tennyson plans to do.

But his confrontation with the Bruiser isn’t what he expected. Brewster, aka Bruiser, doesn’t fight back, even though he’s big enough to pound Tennyson down. But it’s what Tennyson sees that makes him realize there’s more than meets the eye. Brewster’s back is covered with scars, bruises, bump, blisters…like someone has beaten the living daylights out of him….

And that’s where the story truly begins. Brewster and his little brother Cody live with his Uncle Hoyt, a mean drunk who works a steamroller at night and stays home during the day. Uncle Hoyt keeps Brew and Cody close, not wanting any outsiders in their “circle” and when Tennyson and Bronte step over that boundary, they don’t quite understand what they stepped into….

Strange coincidences – Tennyson’s bruised knuckles from lacrosse disappear, Bronte’s sprained ankle feels instantly better….and when they’re around Brew, they notice his red, injured knuckles and the limp he now has. Cody knows the secret and knows that his big brother would never let anything hurt him. Now Bronte and Tennyson know his secret as well, but they don’t know all of it or the ramifications it will have not only on Brewster himself, but on their family and friends as well.

If your family is falling apart; if you want so badly to be the next MVP; if you want to make a person’s life better by showing them true friendship….how far will you go? But more importantly, would you be willing to sacrifice one for the sake of all? Which hurts more – living in your own bubble without any meaningful relationships or caring for the people around you and making whatever hurts them your own?

I know I have an amazing book in my hands when I read through it in one sitting, but don’t want to read it all because then it’ll be over. Such is the case with Neal Shusterman’s newest YA novel. This isn’t just about child abuse, but something much deeper, much more emotional, and very thought-provoking. What seems innocent and helpful at first can be deadly and dangerous if put in the wrong hands. Shusterman not only wields a powerful tale told in different voices of the main characters, but also works magic on the reader by pulling them in on a rollercoaster ride of emotional and edge of your seat situations. I also loved his subtle use of vocabulary enhancement as well…something all readers get when they read, perhaps more so with this book. Excellent read for all secondary grade levels.

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