Neal Shusterman is one of my favorite YA authors, and I have recommended his books to many of my students, from reluctant readers (who devour his Dark Fusion series) to my gifted readers (for whom his novel Unwind is a mind-bending read). Bruiser has been sitting in my pile of books to be read for a while, & I wish I had read it sooner. Wow! I loved it! I will be adding this to my recommendations for students, from the reluctant readers to those who need a challenge, as it is a great story that any student will become engrossed in, and it has Neal’s trademark twists and unexpected turns which will leave the reader thinking long after they have finished the story.
Summary: Tennyson and Bronte are twins living a comfortable, if not exactly happy, life with their parents, college professors whose marriage is in a dull and quiet stasis caused by unforgiven past wrongs and continuing mistakes. When Bronte starts dating the school outcast, a boy named Brewster (called Bruiser by most), Tennyson is determined to split them up. He is convinced that Bruiser is bad news, and he goes to great lengths to try and scare Bruiser away...until he gets to know both Brewster and himself better.
Bronte has always had a soft spot for the abandoned, orphaned, unloved creatures she comes across. Brewster is no exception. She is determined to get past Brewster’s protective shell and truly get to know the boy hiding beneath that untouchable exterior. Tennyson’s initial bullying and interference only increases her determination. There is more to Brewster than anyone else at school realizes…but she is determined to help him make friends and be accepted.
As the twins weave themselves more into Brewster’s life, they discover the reason he stays removed from the world and avoids making friends. When Brewster’s whole world falls apart, how far will Bronte and Tennyson go to help their new friend? Is their help only causing Brewster more pain? And what do you do when you realize that you’ve allowed someone else to take on your burdens – do you keep living the easy life or do you step up and take responsibility?
Told from the perspectives of Tennyson, Bronte and Brewster himself, Bruiser kept me riveted. I couldn’t wait to see how it would end, but also dreaded reaching the end because it would be over. This is a book I will definitely be re-reading!
12 and up
Areas of concern (content):
Foul Language: none
Nudity/Adult Content: mild