Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Review: Brutal Youth

Title Brutal Youth

Author Anthony Breznican

Release Date June 10, 2014

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.

As I was reading the prologue, I wasn't sure if picking up this book was my smartest idea. When I'm doubting whether or not I'll enjoy a book so early, it's normally a bad sign. I decided to give it a couple of more chapters before I gave up. Whenever I read a couple of more chapters, I was hooked. Brutal Youth ended up being so much better than the prologue wanted me to believe.

Brutal Youth is extremely well written. The flawed (very much so in some cases) and complex characters are freshmen and seniors making their way through a year in high school while dealing with bullying and abuse. I believe this book strongly illustrates just how out of control bullying can become whenever no one steps in to stop it or, in some cases, is "encouraged" by teachers or others in charge in the name of tradition. People can be unrelenting in the bullying and abuse with no regard to how their impacting someone's life. It's harsh and can, at times, be tough to read, but it's done wonderfully here.


5 out of 5 stars

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