Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids in the Pacific Northwest. 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.
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Firstly, let’s talk about the cover. I have never seen a book cover so accurately depict the main character, so it’s already a winner, but it’s also gorgeous. The photography, the typography, the beautiful rugby striped spine and the illustration on the back cover? This is a book that screams to be owned in hard copy. One day.
It’s also a book that seems to be enjoyed by everyone, but no one can ever really tell me why. Now I know. Winger is funny and well written with an original main character. Even when other characters fall into stereotypes there is always a sense of selfawareness and because Ryan Dean’s life is what it is (read; ridiculous) nothing ever feels forced or out of place. You find yourself shaking your head and tutting Ryan Dean, all the while with a rueful smile of your face.
The story delves deeper than I thought it would, but then, a lot of YA these days is like that so I can’t really say I was surprised. For me though, the main draw is definitely the humour. And if you can’t get swept along by a teenage boy’s innermost thoughts and go along with his crazy whims and occasional irresponsible decision making, well, it might not be for you. I loved it, and immediately felt the need for something similar. I didn’t find anything, but the sequel is slated for release later this year, so there’ always that.