Ryan Dean's junior year starts with his head almost in the toilet of the O Hall dorm bathroom, thanks to walking into the wrong room. Ryan Dean used to live in the normal dorms, but then he stole a phone from a teacher to call his best friend on her birthday. While that would usually get kids kicked out of Pine Mountain, Ryan Dean has excellent grades so his junior year will be spent in Opportunity Hall with the other deviant boys.
A few things you should know, first off his first name is "Ryan Dean". Don't ask about his middle name, it's worse than having two first names, no hyphen. Secondly, Ryan Dean is a 14-year-old junior, and at the top of his class. All of his friends are 16, including his best friend Annie. Ryan Dean is in love with Annie, but she only sees him as a younger brother.
Then there's Ryan Dean's roommate Chas Becker. Chas doesn't really have any friends, but is still one of the more popular boys in school. This is mainly because he is a bully type. Ryan Dean only knows Chas from being on the rugby team with him. Ryan Dean is a first fifteen wing, while Chas played second row. Ryan Dean is pretty sure he's going to go home in a body bag, or turn into a jerk*.
With his junior year off to a rocky, if not memorable start, Ryan Dean has a lot to face. With his relationship with Annie strained, his old friends living in a different dorm, and his new friends not being quite the upstanding young men Pine Mountain hopes to raise, there is a lot coming at Ryan Dean. These new friendships, changing relationships and private school antics make for a funny, realistic and all in all heart tugging read.
Winger by Andrew Smith is a humors, modern day boarding school story, in the tradition of A Separate Peace or Catcher in the Rye. Throw in the humor of books like Swim the Fly (Calame) and Carter Finally Gets It (Crawford), and add the intensity of Leverage (Cohen) or Whale Talk (Crutcher) with a dash of Spud (Van de Ruit) and you might get something like Winger. If you read any of the books on this list, Winger is a must read.
I'll see you @ the library!
*So Ryan Dean doesn't use the word "jerk" in fact, if Ryan Dean were writing this book review it would be a bit more colorful. Let's just put it this way, this is a realistic book about a 14-year-old junior, who hangs out with mostly 16-18 year-old boys at a boarding school. The language and shenanigans are reflected. If colorful language and mature situations bother you, Winger might not be the book for you. (On the flip side, some of you might really want to read the book now).