Over the past few weeks this book started appearing on a lot of the book blogs I follow. As I noticed the ‘score’ of the book pretty much unanimously being high and the general excitement and fervor surrounding the reviews and responses I knew I had to read this book sooner rather than later and I am very glad I did.
If you haven’t read this book yet, you should. Everyone should read this book; and I do mean everyone. I honestly believe that any reader can find something to identify within this book. And as an added bonus not only is it hilariously laugh out loud funny, but it also wrenches many of your other emotions whether you want it to or not. Smith has created such a tongue-in-cheek character you can’t help but identify with him and love him and want him to do well.
Winger is the story of 14-year-old Ryan Dean West (nicknamed Winger for his position on the Rugby team) and what a story it is. Starting with the first page the reader is hooked into his story and his life. It’s hard to say whether this is because of, or in spite of, his 14-year-old immaturity and sexual fascination with all women. But either way, it was a funny read and I flew through the book. There is just something about coming of age stories which make most adults smile and think about their own childhoods and this was one of the best coming of age stories I’ve read in a long time.
This book reminded me a lot of Reif Larsen’s The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet but in a much more humorous sort of way. The combination of text, ‘handwritten’ text and drawings/comics really made for a great mixture. Throw in that many of the chapters are incredibly short there are always places to take a break from reading.
In addition to all of the above, Smith created a plethora of minor characters that were brilliant. From the idiotic football players and the surprisingly humane rugby team to the enchanting Annie and the many other sexually charged women, Smith knows how to write characters. This partially comes from the descriptions and interactions of Winger, but it also comes from the inclusion of a few parallel plot lines, one of which was just wow. I also appreciated that Smith included an LGBT character who wasn’t a stereotype and actually had Winger talk about his reactions and responses to his many interactions with said character.
Recommendation: A must read. See the first paragraph.
Opening Line: “I said a silent prayer.”
Closing Line: “I can breathe again.” (Whited out.)