Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bruiser, by Neal Shusterman

Harper Teen

Don't get me started on the Bruiser. He was voted "Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty" by the entire school. He's the kid no one knows, no one talks to, and everyone hears disturbing rumors about. So why is my sister, BrontË, dating him? One of these days she's going to take in the wrong stray dog, and it's not going to end well.

My brother has no right to talk about Brewster that way—no right to threaten him. There's a reason why Brewster can't have friends—why he can't care about too many people. Because when he cares about you, things start to happen. Impossible things that can't be explained. I know, because they're happening to me.

Have we mentioned that we hate predictable? There are so many great books out there. When we get the chance to sit down and read something, we want to feel it was worthy of being chosen over all the others, and not wasting time we could be spending with another book. If we can guess the ending three pages in, it feels like a waste of our time to actually read the middle part.

We have never had that problem with Shusterman, so when we figured out VERY early on what Bruiser's 'secret' is, we were surprised. Fortunately, the story was compelling enough, and we had enough faith in Shusterman to continue.

Within a few chapters the other MCs figure things out, and it becomes clear the mystery is not the point of the story. Whew! This is more a story of friendship and sacrifice, of taking the easy way out of difficult situations, and how not letting things come to their natural conclusions can steal something from you in the end.

While Bruiser and his special abilities are a thing of fantasy, some of the general premises are very real, and could make for some thought-provoking discussion. This one may be a good pick for a high school classroom - just edgy enough to capture the reluctant readers, not so complicated as to turn them off, distinct voices presented in different fashion, and of course plenty to discuss and apply to 'real life'. We give it a

4 out of 5.

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