Brutal Youth: Book summary and reviews of Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

Brutal Youth

by Anthony Breznican

Brutal Youth
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2014
    416 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Three freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that's even worse in Anthony Breznican's Brutal Youth

With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael's has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal - so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.

To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In his first novel, Breznican, a staff writer for Entertainment Weekly, is clearly aiming for biting satire, but the off-the-rails plot and lunatic villains more often come off as cartoonish." - Booklist

"Readable and clever, this novel might make an easy transition to the movie screen, where stock characters, oblivious parents and needless repetition are familiar, but today's audiences probably won't go for a look at an era that lacks the viral abuses of cyberbullying." - Kirkus

"With Brutal Youth, Anthony Breznican has captured high-school life in all its gruesome, wild, survival-of-the-fittest lunacy. His portrait of teenagers- and the theoretical grownups who tend to them - is, by turns, painfully funny and painfully painful, but always sharp as a well-carved stick." - Gillian Flynn, New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl

"By turns funny and terrifying, Brutal Youth is an unputdownable tour-de-force, a Rebel Without a Cause for the 21st century." - Stephen King

"The anti-bullying message is earned, heartily, instead of being thrust in your face. First and foremost the book is an intriguing, rich, perfectly paced, entertaining read. I also enjoyed the dark humor that offsets the harrowing tone at just the right spots. Highly recommended." - James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner

"As a child, few things are scarier than school. In Brutal Youth, you'll realize how right your younger self was. This one will haunt you." - Brad Meltzer, author of The Fifth Assassin and The Book of Lies

"Breznican has accomplished that rare feat of unflinchingly exposing the high school experience in all of its hilarity, vengeance, and terror. You'll think Roald Dahl just went for a swim in the world of John Hughes and came out wearing prison stripes." - Jason Reitman, writer/director/producer of Juno, Thank You For Smoking, Up In The Air and Labor Day

The information about Brutal Youth shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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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)

Pow!
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.

Rebecca

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.

Mal

Brutal Youth
Reading Brutal Youth is powerful. This troubling, affecting story will leave you lost in thought long after you have finished reading. My heart was heavy for the cast and all they suffered and endured.

Breznican provides an eclectic array of endearing characters, all pulling at the readers heartstrings as you experience their anguish and triumphs. A few characters and their stories are tattooed on my brain and will remain with me permanently, specifically - Clink, Hannah, Stein and Davidek.

As we hear daily in the media of the ongoing growing issue of bullying Brenznican uses Brutal Youth as a sobering example of what's really happening in society. The narrative is well paced so the reader is slowly immersed as opposed to being thrust into the madness.

A brutal but yet beautiful intriguing read succeeding on all levels. The well placed insertions of dark humor tempered the painful tone. I highly recommend this book for young and mature readers. A lens capturing the cruelty and savage behavior a majority of society partakes. Nonetheless an eyeopener of a very real issue that's sadly, not improving.

Would be very curious to see this adapted to film. Rare for me.

...14 more reader reviews

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About the Author
Anthony Breznican was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1998. He has worked as a reporter for The Arizona Republic, Associated Press, and USA Today, and is currently a senior staff writer for Entertainment Weekly.

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