Winger by Andrew Smith

Ryan Dean West is an average, 14 year old boy, if 14 year old boys go to exclusive private schools, participate in classes with 16 year olds, and play on the varsity Rugby team. His first name is actually “Ryan West” and his unnatural intelligence allowed him to skip 2 years at Pine Mountain, putting him in classes with his best friend,  Annie Altman, whom he also has a crush on, his two ‘best’ friends, Sean Flaherty, John-Paul Tureau, also known as JP.

On his first day back, he was placed in the Opportunity Hall, the place where the school puts all the troublemakers. He was placed in a room with Chas Becker, also known as Betch. Chas is a school bully, the Senior who plays second row. He was placed in O-Hall after stealing a cell phone from a teacher.

Ryan Dean has been in love with Annie since the start. The only problem with their relationship, is that Annie only sees him as a younger brother, not  a possible love interest. He keeps dropping hints, flirting, at some times, but either she’s not interested, or doesn’t get it.

Ryan Dean’s nickname during the book is Winger, due to his position on the Rugby team, Winger. He is the fastest boy in school, which makes the best winger for the team.

During the first day back, Chas invites Ryan Dean to a midnight poker party. This was against the rules, because curfew was at 10. That night, Chas wakes Ryan Dean up, and they start at midnight. He takes his first drink of beer, and eventually loses. He was previously warned by Seanie and JP about the consequence, which was the punishment for the loser. He was forced to sneak into the girl’s washrooms, also against the rules, and pee in there. In a drunken stupor, he agrees, and as he is in the middle, the girl’s hall monitor, knocks on the door. He hears her mutter something, though he’s not sure.

Sometime later, Megan, Chas’s girlfriend, is having trouble with Calculus, so Ryan Dean and Joey, his homosexual friend, offer to help. Soon these late study group turns out to flirt fest, with Joey being the odd wheel out. Megan, behind Chas’s back, starts flirting with Ryan Dean, and he, in turn, though in love with Annie, flirts back. Joey keeps reminding Ryan Dean that he should stop before Annie learns about it, or Chas. If that happened, he would no longer be able to walk.

During the book, you learn about HighSchool romance, persistance, and a bit about rugby. You get a glimpse of what it’s like to lose a friend over a girl, and consistant flirting.

Age Recommendation- 13+

Personal Opinion: Again, I also liked this book. It has a ton of things in it that I can relate too, and the adventures that he has reminds me of how boring my life is. Whenever I read the book is like the movie, taking me to places and showing me things. Each chapter, every word was written as a 14 year old, which, as an older writer, I know is hard to do. All the things that Ryan Dean goes through in this book is so innocent, so childlike, that it makes my day seem so boring and old. Oh well! (Jade’s Review- 3.7/5)

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