Winger by Andrew SmithWinger by Andrew Smith


byAndrew SmithIllustratorSam Bosma

Hardcover | May 14, 2013

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A teen at boarding school grapples with life, love, and rugby in a heartbreakingly funny novel.

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn infographics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.
Title:WingerFormat:HardcoverDimensions:448 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.5 inPublished:May 14, 2013Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1442444924

ISBN - 13:9781442444928

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Customer Reviews of Winger


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Will remain a favourite for a long time. This book is on almost every single book blogger's shelf, whether they have read it already or plan to in the future, everyone has talked about this book at one point or another. Of course I was intrigued and curious to know what all of the hype was about. It turns out that this book wasn't exactly what I thought it would be and that isn't necessarily a bad thing at all. This was my first ever experience with a novel written by Andrew Smith. Like I have already said, this book has been talked about all over the book community so I figured it would be the best choice for my first Andrew Smith novel, especially because I've heard so much about his other work being slightly on the weird and obscure side. I am known to love things that are out of the ordinary so I am excited to read more of his work in the near future. Andrew Smith's writing style is fantastic. It was so fast paced and witty and humourous with just a slight hint of dark, sarcastic wit. I'm not sure if I'm describing even remotely close to what I'm thinking in my head, but just know that I thought it was fantastic. Our narrator, Ryan Dean West, is a very smart and mature fourteen year old junior in high school. Obviously this means he skipped a few grades which makes him the youngest of his classmates, making him an easy target. His classmates often call him a child, a little boy or "adorable" and this pushes him to constantly try and prove to his friends that he's more than just a kid. He takes out a lot of his anger and frustration on the field as the winger on the school's rugby team. I found Ryan Dean's internal monologue to be hilarious at the same time as a being little depressing. The way he would come up with different "hotness scales" and charts and graphs were hilarious and made me chuckle quite a few times. The illustrations were a nice little touch. On the other hand, I found he talked to himself a lot and continuously called himself a loser. I know everyone has these thoughts from time to time, but after a while it seemed to me that he actually deeply believed he was a loser and that ultimately he felt out of place and alone at his boarding school. The other boys on Ryan Dean's rugby team were fantastic supporting characters. Everyone had their own distinct personalities and I knew who was who throughout the entire novel without getting anyone confused. I loved Seanie who was just as hilarious as Ryan Dean, but just slightly more immature. Ryan Dean's teammate and roommate Chas had his moments where I wasn't particularly fond of his character, but by the end of the novel I found that I actually didn't dislike him as much as I thought. Then there is Joey, an openly gay senior and the rugby team's captain. Joey does not have one bad bone in his body and he acted as the voice of reason throughout the entire novel. Joey and Ryan Dean's characters complimented each other perfectly. Although the boys in this novel were written fantastically, I unfortunately can't say the same for the females. The two main female characters, Annie & Megan, kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Annie was very indecisive and moody throughout the first half of the story and Megan was a little too flirtatious and needy. I almost wish this story involved just an all boys school rather than co-ed, but the two characters did prove to be needed for the character development of Ryan Dean towards the end of the novel. The first 400 pages (a.k.a. 90% of the novel) was comedic and hilarious. We had a constant stream of Ryan Dean's thoughts and everything was fun and campy...until about the last 30 pages. The story takes an incredibly dark turn that I was not expecting in the least and I found myself feeling really upset after reading the end of the story. I was shocked by how blunt and straight to the point these turn of events were and I'm still thinking about it well after finishing the novel. That being said, I am unsure of why there is a sequel being written for Winger. It ended on such a dark, yet powerful, note and in my honest opinion I think it should just be left alone. Will I still pick up a copy of Stand-Off? Probably. I just hope it doesn't end up feeling like one of those movies that just doesn't need a sequel, gets one anyway and it turns out to be a major flop. Winger was a great coming of age story and it definitely keeps you thinking about it long after you have finished reading. It doesn't feel like it would have such a huge impact on you while reading the majority of the novel, but the ending hits hard. Winger is a memorable novel that will have a spot on my shelf for a very long time.
Date published: 2015-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic YA novel Why did I wait so long to read this book?!?! I could kick myself for putting this one off for so long. This book has to be one of the best YA novels that I have ever read. It is really that good. I read this book cover to cover in a single day and I can't think of a better way to spend a free day. Of course, I really didn't have much of a choice because once I started reading this story, I simply could not put it down. Ryan Dean West is in many ways an average 14 year old boy. He feels like a loser quite often and he cannot keep his mind off of girls. One thing that sets Ryan Dean apart from the other students at his boarding school is that he is a junior despite the fact that he is only 14. Ryan Dean doesn't let anything stop him. He plays left wing for the school's rugby team, which is where he received the nickname "Winger." Ryan Dean is living in the O-Hall this year because he got into a little bit of trouble the previous year. Opportunity Hall is the residence for trouble makers and Ryan Dean finds himself mixed in with a group of boys who aren't all exactly welcoming. He does make some new friends, finds himself in a few conflicts, and learns to deal with girls during the course of the story. I loved the way this story was told. I absolutely love it when a story can incorporate humor without losing its focus. This book had a thread of humor on nearly every page and none of it felt forced. I never laughed out loud but I was amused for the majority of the story. I really like the fact that the story was not told simply through a narrative. The artwork that was used to help tell the story really worked well and helped bring Ryan Dean to life. I also really liked the way that his thoughts were shown in the story through plays and other creative methods. This was one of those story that really grew on me. At first, Ryan Dean did seem like an awkward boy who was a little clueless. The more I read the more I grew to like Ryan Dean. He really was a good guy who sometimes lacked direction. I also grew to like his friends. This book really helped me to remember how difficult being a teenager can be. The ending of this book blew me away. I never saw it coming and I am so glad that nobody spoiled it for me. I would highly recommend this book. It was funny and touching in a way that is rarely found in a single story. This is the first book by Andrew Smith that I have read but I am definitely planning to check out his other books soon.
Date published: 2015-09-09

Read from the Book

Winger CHAPTER ONE NOTHING COULD POSSIBLY SUCK WORSE than being a junior in high school, alone at the top of your class, and fourteen years old all at the same time. So the only way I braced up for those agonizing first weeks of the semester, and made myself feel any better about my situation, was by telling myself that it had to be better than being a senior at fifteen. Didn’t it? My name is Ryan Dean West. Ryan Dean is my first name. You don’t usually think a single name can have a space and two capitals in it, but mine does. Not a dash, a space. And I don’t really like talking about my middle name. I also never cuss, except in writing, and occasionally during silent prayer, so excuse me up front, because I can already tell I’m going to use the entire dictionary of cusswords when I tell the story of what happened to me and my friends during my eleventh-grade year at Pine Mountain. PM is a rich kids’ school. But it’s not only a prestigious rich kids’ school; it’s also for rich kids who get in too much trouble because they’re alone and ignored while their parents are off being congressmen or investment bankers or professional athletes. And I know I wasn’t actually out of control, but somehow Pine Mountain decided to move me into Opportunity Hall, the dorm where they stuck the really bad kids, after they caught me hacking a cell phone account so I could make undetected, untraceable free calls. They nearly kicked me out for that, but my grades saved me. I like school, anyway, which increases the loser quotient above and beyond what most other kids would calculate, simply based on the whole two-years-younger-than-my-classmates thing. The phone was a teacher’s. I stole it, and my parents freaked out, but only for about fifteen minutes. That was all they had time for. But even in that short amount of time, I did count the phrase “You know better than that, Ryan Dean” forty-seven times. To be honest, I’m just estimating, because I didn’t think to count until about halfway through the lecture. We’re not allowed to have cell phones here, or iPods, or anything else that might distract us from “our program.” And most of the kids at PM completely buy in to the discipline, but then again, most of them get to go home to those things every weekend. Like junkies who save their fixes for when there’s no cops around. I can understand why things are so strict here, because it is the best school around for the rich deviants of tomorrow. As far as the phone thing went, I just wanted to call Annie, who was home for the weekend. I was lonely, and it was her birthday. I already knew that my O-Hall roommate was going to be Chas Becker, a senior who played second row on the school’s rugby team. Chas was as big as a tree, and every bit as smart, too. I hated him, and it had nothing to do with the age-old, traditional rivalry between backs and forwards in rugby. Chas was a friendless jerk who navigated the seas of high school with his rudder fixed on a steady course of intimidation and cruelty. And even though I’d grown about four inches since the end of last year and liked to tell myself that I finally—finally!—didn’t look like a prepubescent minnow stuck in a pond of hammerheads like Chas, I knew that my reformative dorm assignment with Chas Becker in the role of bunk-bed mate was probably nothing more than an “opportunity” to go home in a plastic bag. But I knew Chas from the team, even though I never talked to him at practice. I might have been smaller and younger than the other boys, but I was the fastest runner in the whole school for anything up to a hundred meters, so by the end of the season last year, as a thirteen-year-old sophomore, I was playing wing for the varsity first fifteen (that’s first string in rugby talk). Besides wearing ties and uniforms, all students were required to play sports at PM. I kind of fell into rugby because running track was so boring, and rugby’s a sport that even small guys can play—if you’re fast enough and don’t care about getting hit once in a while. So I figured I could always outrun Chas if he ever went over the edge and came after me. But even now, as I write this, I can still remember the feeling of sitting on the bottom bunk, there in our quiet room, just staring in dread at the door, waiting for my roommate to show up for first-semester check-in on that first Sunday morning in September. All I had to do was make it through the first semester of eleventh grade without getting into any more trouble, and I’d get a chance to file my appeal to move back into my room with Seanie and JP in the boys’ dorm. But staying out of trouble, like not getting killed while living with Chas Becker, was going to be a full-time job, and I knew that before I even set eyes on him.

Editorial Reviews

“I am seriously moved beyond words after finishing this beautiful, hilarious, and heart-exploding book. Reading Winger is like running down a steep hill--you should probably slow down, but it feels too good to stop. Andrew Smith has written a wildly original, hilarious, and heartbreaking ode to teenage confusion and frustration. You'll devour it and then go back for more."