Andrew Smith’s young adult novel Winger is a comical, genuine and heartbreaking tale of growing-up at a boarding school. Ryan Dean is the only 14 year old junior at his private boarding school for rich juvenile delinquents. Okay, so he stole and hacked into one cell phone. However, he has decided that this year is going to be different. He is determined to get his friend Annie to look at him as more than a friend. Of course he will also be the best winger on his rugby team. But everything changes when he gets into one little fight and he has to move into the dorm for the really troubled teens. Now he is forced to live with someone who may cause him harm in his sleep (although they are teammates and that has to mean something right?) and he is no longer living with his two best friends.
I loved this book! Smith creates a great voice for Ryan Dean that is instantly believable and incredibly funny. He also includes illustrations and charts all from Ryan Dean’s perspective that are fabulous. There is a great theme of friendship and comradery between teammates in this novel that is so enjoyable. I love the rugby team. They may not always like each other, but you never mess with a rugby player unless you want to mess with the rugby team. This book feels very true to life with humor, heartbreak, and unexpected ups-and-downs. This is a must-read book.