Ryan Dean (aka Winger) attends a boarding school for rich kids. He's very smart, so he's two years ahead of his classmates -- he's a junior who is 14 years old. This causes a lot of problems -- for Ryan Dean -- but not anyone else. He has such a chip on his shoulder about being younger that it makes him whiny and kind of obsessive about it. But no one else EVER seems to care. Yeah, they call him "kid" once in a while, but he acts like that's the biggest insult EVER.
He's obsessed with girls. Especially Annie, who is his best friend, but Ryan Dean wants more. Is there any way he could possible get a girl that's two years older? Annie's and Ryan Dean's slowly evolving and changing relationship is one of the high points of Winger. Their banter is priceless and had me laughing out loud.
Winger and his friends play rugby, so that's an interesting aspect to the story, Also, the rivalry between the rugby players and the football players is expected, but entertaining. Winger is in a "special" dorm for those who have misbehaved. He has fewer privileges than some of his friends, but he makes new friends (and enemies) in this dorm.
The relationship between Winger and Joey, who is gay, is also a special part of the story. Winger doesn't have a lot of plot, but watching these kids be stupid and make mistakes, watching the relationships develop and change, and watching the romance was all entertaining enough that the "action" didn't really matter.
I know teen boys are a unique breed (I work with them every day) but I found Winger to be too volatile. His extreme and instant jealousy was over the top. He's very quick to anger, impulsive, and violent. I wanted to shake him and tell him to calm down. I think that school needed some counselors! (yea Doc Mom!)
Now ... the ending. Wow. I just didn't expect that, and I wish if Smith were going to write it that way, that he would have had this happen much sooner. I felt like I got dropped off a cliff and was left hanging onto a tree branch. I needed more ending. More something. I really loved this book until the ending, which I hated. Not that it happened, but the way it was written.
Still gonna recommend Winger, though. It's a good contemporary that I think teens will enjoy, but also take something away from. Just....that ending....
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2013
Copy obtained from the library
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