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September 29, 2011

Bruiser by Neal Schusterman

HarperTeen; 1 edition (June 29, 2010)

Summary: Tennyson and Brontë, 15-year old twins, have a good life. Their parents are college professors, they live in a nice-enough house, they expect to get nice-enough cars when they turn 16, and they are popular enough in school. Really, they only have two problems in their “nice-enough” lives. Their first problems are each other- for two people who shared a womb, they can’t seem to be far enough away from each other. Second, the impending explosion of their parents marriage is infringing on the “nice-enoughness” of their household.

Brewster “Bruiser” Rawlins does not have a nice life at all. He and his brother Cody live with their Uncle Hoyt, who for all his talk of “family time” treats his nephews like scum he found on the bottom of his shoe. “The Bruiser’s” classmates have voted him “Most Likely to get the Death Penalty.”  No one really seems to care what happens to Brewster Rawlins which suits him just fine.  Strange things seem to happen whenever he cares about anyone.

Brewster has done a good job of keeping himself isolated from the outside world, that is, until Brontë comes into his life. He likes her, she likes him, but Tennyson doesn’t like any of it, for a while at least. When Brontë and eventually Tennyson start to care about Brewster, he can’t help but care about them. What will happen when Brontë and Tennyson learn about Brewster’s secret?

The Good: There are many Neal Schusterman books which I have not read, but of the ones that I have, they seem to fall into two catagories: 1) Quirky realistic fiction such as The Schwa was Here and Antsy Does Time, and 2) Creepy stories with a supernatural twist like Everlost or  Unwind. Bruiser walks the line between these two genres. The books starts out like a pretty normal story about a brother, a sister, and her boyfriend who eventually becomes his friend. Pretty average right. That is, until Brewster’s secret hits you right between the eyes (and no…I’m not going to tell you what it is). I was up way too late reading when I hit the “ah ha moment” part of the story. I had an instant “palm to forehead” moment (and then I had to make myself close the book because I knew that I wouldn’t stop reading if I kept going).

The Bad: If you are bothered by changing perspectives in books, this might be a problem, but I found it interesting to hear parts of the story from four different perspectives (Tennyson, Brontë, Brewster, and Cody). Every character has their own view so while the story is told from several different first person points of view, the reader gets an omniscient perspective.

The Ugly: Uncle Hoyt. He is awful. Uncle Hoyt is a completely despicable character. He is abusive and his character is responsible for a few really terrible scenes. Know going into the book that there are about three really disturbing scenes and several uncomfortable ones throughout the book. There is some violence and there were two scenes that made me cringe. That being said, this is a great book, just know going into it that you are going to be bothered by the way Uncle Hoyt behaves.

The Awesome: This is one of those books that you want there to be a sequel for, but you know there won’t be. On one hand, you want to know more about the characters, but on the other hand, you know that you have heard the end of their story and it is somehow okay. At the end of the book you don’t want to say good bye to the characters, but you know it is time.

*Image from Neal Schusterman’s website, Check it out!

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