Emily B. (Hinsdale, IL)
I want more!
I did not want to finish this book. I love the characters and how well high school was brutally portrayed with loyalties, betrayals, alliances and pride. Who can you trust? Who can you love? And who will always be there by your side, even from afar. How far can an individual be pushed before they reach their ultimate limit?
Michelle M. (Wakefield, RI)
What every high school teacher and student should read
I absolutely loved this book. This book could be used for a tutorial on bullying and the responsibility of parents and teachers to stop this kind of behavior. For anyone who has been bullied, or ridiculed , like I was in school, this is a MUST READ.
Rebecca K. (Chicagoland, IL)
For anyone who hated high school!
I was pretty blown away by "Brutal Youth," the first novel by Anthony Breznican. Taking place in the early 1990s, it's the story of a year at a Catholic high school. The teachers are no happier to be there than the students, and many people go to great lengths to cover their bad behavior (while others go to great lengths to make sure everyone recognizes their bad behavior). It's full of humor, revenge, pranks, petty arguments, and gossip. I loved it!
Diane C. (Nashville, TN)
St. Michael's High School has blithely ignored the "good-natured" hazing of freshmen by upperclassmen, even as the tortures become intolerably cruel. We are introduced to the school as a frazzled, defeated freshman climbs up to the roof, pushing statutes of the saints over the edge. The prospective freshman class, on campus for open house, is understandably dismayed.
How far will adolescents go when they are fighting for self-preservation? The adults - teachers, priest, guidance counselor - are themselves so entrenched in a web of threats and lies that they are powerless. Initially it seems that the reader has stumbled into one of the rings of hell, peopled with lunatics. And yet Breznican gradually reveals the human faces, the broken hearts, the lonely souls, and these same lunatics become real, flawed beings.
Breznican's writing is insightful and powerful. The first line reads, "The kid had taken a lot of punishment over the years, so he had much to give back." There is no real sense of good people and bad people, only hurt people and the way they choose to channel their pain. And even as the punishments meted out in the story seem severe, there are thousands of kids in high schools right now who are suffering just as deeply.
I found the integration of the various plot lines to be exceptional, albeit often tragic. But despite the dark humor (some might say sick humor) the book ends with a lift. I'm thinking this is a novel that teens will love.
Disturbing at Times, Yet I Read On
The minute I read the first paragraph, I knew this book was unique. It became disturbing in places quite quickly, and yet I did want to know what was going to become of that first high school students. I occasionally read books that my 9th grade students recommend, and I can't say I always like them. I did like this book better than some of theirs, and I think most of my students would enjoy reading it; however, I don't know if I could ever actually incorporate this into my curriculum.
Some of the quirks of the characters in the book are ones I've never read before. This isn't the place for a spoiler alert, so just watch for Clink.
I am glad that I received this book to preview. I doubt that I would have bought it on my own, and that reading-outside-of-my-comfort-zone is actually something that I like about BookBrowse. I believe that this book is well written enough to lend itself to development into a movie and possibly even a television series.
The story is not outside the realm of belief by any means. One has only to read the news on any given day to know that bullying, hazing, and unacceptable things take place on educational campuses.
Carol G. (Little Egg Harbor, NJ)
I thought the book was well written and I especially like that in a debut novel. I especially liked the honesty the author portrayed with the "trio:" I loved what the author accomplished portraying high school experiences which some of us may have encountered. Though I did not experience any of the "bullying", it was an eye opener for me and I can feel for those students who have gone through this. I think anyone who reads this book will get something out of it!
Jinny K. (Fremont, CA)
Mean and Scary
First, this book is extremely well written. The sense of place and atmosphere are vividly depicted and the characters are well-drawn and true to themselves. The story may be accurate in some time and place, although I never experienced this extreme behavior as a high school student in the sixties. As a portrait of unmitigated meanness, I found it almost as disturbing as Lord of the Flies, and for that reason alone I'm not sure I would want to read such a book again.