By Andrew Smith
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013. 448 pgs.
After multiple librarians and friends suggesting this book, I was able to read it over the holidays and I am so glad I did. This book is heartbreaking but refreshing in a way that can't really be explained until you read the ending.
Ryan Dean West is the main character and attends a private boarding school and is younger and scrawnier then his teammates and classmates. He is smart and talented enough to be advanced in rugby and school. He has been placed in a separate wing at school for boys that have gotten in to trouble, he struggles with trying to be cool, and he is in love with his older, best friend Annie. One of the best protagonists of any Young Adult book I have read, Ryan Dean comes off as a very insecure but hilarious teen. Then he grows a little and can hold his own as well as becomes friends with multiple characters that make for great adventures. Smith's portrayal of teen boys and their relationships was funny and touching all at once. I even learned a lot about rugby. There is some language as they are high school boys and they do fight quite a bit. The overall lesson learned though will stay with me a long time.