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Magan: Winger by Andrew Smith

Book Cover for Winger by Andrew Smith

Winger by Andrew Smith (Website | Twitter)
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 448
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: boarding school, rugby, male POV, friendship, love, bullying
Format read: ARC received from S&S (Thank you!)

Summary: Ryan Dean, a 14-year-old rugby-playing high school junior, is determined to make something of himself instead of just being the skinny kid. And he hopes that his friendship with Annie will blossom into more if she can look past their two-year age difference.

I have to be honest. I’ve kind of felt like Debbie Downer around here on the blog. Why? Well, I’ve read a few “meh” books lately that have really just left me feeling a little let down. I’ve been needing something well-written and addictive. A five-star book.

Well, friends, I found it.

Winger by Andrew Smith was all of that and more for me. The story is about a boy, Ryan Dean, who attends a boarding school. He’s a fourteen-year-old junior. Yep, that’s right — he’s smart and was able to skip ahead a few grades. His best friend is sixteen-year-old Annie, and he’s also extremely in love with her. (Will she ever go for the younger guy?!) At the end of last year, Ryan Dean was caught doing something that was against the rules. That means he’s exiled to O-Hall, away from his best friends JP and Seanie, to live with his Rugby teammate, Chas, who is an extreme bully. And somehow, Ryan Dean has decided that junior year will be the year he quits being a skinny nobody. How will things play out for him when his friendships get complicated, he finds himself in trouble (again), and Annie refers to him as a “little boy”?

In a nutshell, that’s all the information I feel you should have going into Winger. So, so, so many things happen, but it wouldn’t have the same effect if I blabbered on and on and ruined all the surprises for you. This was my first Andrew Smith book, and now I feel like an addict who needs to devour absolutely everything else he’s written. He taps into the mind of Ryan Dean so well — he’s funny and a little perverted, but very self-aware and insecure, too. Shamefully, I was a bit nervous about reading from a 14-year-old boy’s perspective. I’m a girl who likes the older, more mature YA books. Never fear! His age didn’t turn out to be a problem for me at all. In fact, I sometimes had to remind myself he was so young.

And for those of you that appreciate books that told in a completely original way, I think you’ll love what you find in Winger. Ryan Dean’s voice will suck you in, but the drawings and illustrations (!!!) done by Sam Bosma add a little something extra to the story that pushed my love for Winger over the edge. Their inclusion seemed so fitting and necessary. I can’t imagine the story without the comics or the bar graphs.

I really try not to make too many book comparisons, but I say the following because I have so much respect for Andrew Smith and Stephen Chbosky. Winger, in many, many ways, reminded me of Perks of Being a Wallflower. Please don’t think I’m saying the stories are the same (because they’re not), but they both consist of characters that you embrace and want to protect, friendships that feel so full and authentic, character growth that makes you proud, moments that simultaneously make you want to laugh out loud and cringe, and the desire for there to be many, many more pages so the story can continue once you’ve reached the end. Winger is an amazing coming-of-age story that made me wish I knew all of the characters in real life and all of the emotions I felt while reading (and watching) Perks came flooding back to me.

Really, friends, you all MUST read this book. Have a friend do a read-along with you because you’ll NEED that person to talk to when you’ve reached the last page. If you need me to be that person, I absolutely will be. Now go… order Winger already so you can meet one of my favorite male MCs ever.

(And hallelujah! My reading drought is over!)

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October 11, 2016 - 12:02 am

Ten Books I Read Because of a Recommendation - […] by Andrew Smith Reading this book was a top priority after reading Magan from Rather Be Reading’s review and seeing them gush over it on […]

April 14, 2015 - 3:11 pm

Magan - Corey, I’m SO excited you’re enjoying WINGER. Did you finish? So happy that you’re so into this one. It took me a little while, but then I got HOOKED!

April 8, 2015 - 1:44 pm

corey - i dont like reading books but i actually liked reading this one witch literally surprised everyone in the high school and my at my household because everyone would have to force me to read i got in i.s.s and read like 1 or 2 pages and got interesting then read to next chapter and couldn’t stop reading im like on 400th page right now where he got let into that dance

August 13, 2013 - 3:32 pm

Corinne Battistelli - What would you say the climax of Winger is? Can someone help me out? By the way, right now Winger is my favorite book. I felt broken at the end.

August 13, 2013 - 8:01 am

Sweet Summertime Reads: , Magan - […] by Andrew Smith: Goodreads | Amazon | Magan’s Review The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding: Goodreads | Amazon | Estelle’s […]

June 25, 2013 - 9:00 am

Sweet Summertime Reads: The Nautical and The Sexy - […] and especially love that it helped Magan get out of her own reading slump. She called it “well-written and addictive“. That’s just the kind of book I need in my hands right […]

June 4, 2013 - 9:01 am

Hilarious and Heartbreaking: Winger by Andrew Smith | wrapped up in books - […] Magan from Rather Be Reading: “Andrew Smith taps into the mind of Ryan Dean so well — he’s funny and a little perverted, but very self-aware and insecure, too. Shamefully, I was a bit nervous about reading from a 14-year-old boy’s perspective. I’m a girl who likes the older, more mature YA books. Never fear! His age didn’t turn out to be a problem for me at all. In fact, I sometimes had to remind myself he was so young.” […]

May 5, 2013 - 12:10 pm

Amy @ bookgoonie - I recall that moment when I was in 1 author line & you guys were in Smith’s. I meant to get over there & get Winger specifically. Urgh! Totally got distracted. I’m so pumped that it deserves more hype. I’m going to put it on my school wish list.

May 3, 2013 - 11:21 am

May 2013 Young Adult Book Releases - […] Goodreads | Amazon | Magan’s Review Description: […]

May 2, 2013 - 6:21 pm

Annie - This sounds EXACTLY like the book I need to read to get out from my slump! If it worked for you, it’ll work for me! I like how it’s a male POV and boy, the book just sounds amazing! The cover is quite interesting as well…

May 2, 2013 - 12:00 pm

Cynthia - This one sounds really great and I love books that have drawings in them, they’re always so much fun to read. I was a bit hesitant because of the cover but now I definitely want to read it. Sounds like something I would enjoy. =)

May 2, 2013 - 11:53 am

Lisa Schensted - I first heard about this book from Ginger and I was like yes, this is my book.

Now I read your review and I’m like YES. THIS IS MY BOOK.

I have to admit that I am usually in love with books by men with male mc’s that come of age. I mean, hello John Green and Markus Zusak and Patrick Ness – amiright?

Anyway, I love that you tell us that the book is rad and why without giving away plot. I love that a lot. Leave the happenings for us to discover!

May 2, 2013 - 11:21 am

Alexa Y. - Your review basically makes me want to have this book in my hands already! I love that you’re clearly enthusiastic about this story. It sounds really good, especially because it’s a male POV (!) and you compared it to Perks (!). I definitely need a good contemporary novel in my life, and thanks to your review, I’m thinking this may be it!

May 2, 2013 - 10:48 am

Matthew MacNish - Winger is my favorite book by Andrew Smith (my favorite is always the one I read most recently). And I completely agree, this is a fabulous, fabulous book, made just a little bit more perfect by Sam Bosma’s illustrations.

If you’re going to get into Andrew Smith, I would suggest reading the rest of his books in the order they were published.

Ghost Medicine is sad and beautiful.
In the Path of Falling Objects is pretty disturbing, but totally poetic.
The Marbury Lens will never let you go.
Stick will break you and leave you sobbing in the corner.
Passenger (the follow up to The Marbury Lens) will make your head explode.

All in all, most of Smith’s work is much grittier and darker than Winger, but it all has that same voice that just grabs you by the heart and takes you for a thrilling ride.

May 2, 2013 - 10:37 am

Corner Librarian - Smith’s previous books Stick and In the Path of Falling Objects are two of my favorites. I’m on chapter sixteen of Winger now (got my ARC at TLA as well) and am devouring it. Ryan Dean (NOT plain Ryan) has me falling in love already.

May 2, 2013 - 10:01 am

Andrew Smith - I am so happy your drought is over, Magan!

May 2, 2013 - 8:36 am

Ginger @ GReads! - Oh my goodness. I am SO ready to read this book. It is up next for me after I finish my current read. When we got our copies at TLA, there was just something oozing from that book (not literally, gross lol) that made me think – THIS right here has the potential to be greatness. And based on your review here, it IS greatness. I love your comparison to Perks and how it has characters that you feel the need to protect because that is EXACTLY how I felt about Charlie from Perks. Oh my goodness Magan. You have me feeling things and I haven’t even read page one yet!! Ahhh.

May 2, 2013 - 7:22 am

Randi M - Yay! I just added this book to my TBR yesterday (don’t know why I waited so long because, hello, RUBGY), so I am super excited to read a glowing review for it. I love getting a guy’s POV every once in awhile and Ryan sounds like a character I’ll really like. Also, the illustrations = bonus! I love when books have something a little extra like that. Excellent review!

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