Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids in the Pacific Northwest. 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 info-graphics 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.
Winger is not the usual type of book I pick up but since it was getting so popular in the YA world, I decided to give it a try. I can honestly say I did not expect to like it as much as I did. It’s about a guy named Ryan Dean who goes to a rich kid private school and plays rugby. I usually don’t expect much of books with a private school setting because they’re so overdone, especially ones where the main character is very involved with a sport (not being a sports person myself), but this book surprised me. Yes, it does have those cliché breaking-the-rules-at-midnight scenes and getting-in-fights-with-the-other-teams scenes but there were also many parts that genuinely interested me.
This book is a coming of age story. Ryan Dean is a high school junior at only fourteen years old who is tired of being considered a child, especially by one of his best friends Annie who he’s hopelessly in love with. This was a little like another one of those out-of-place-in-high-school-student-rooting-for-one-of-the-most-popular-kids kind of book, and it was but it was more too. Winger is funny, very touching at times, and the ending punches you in the heart.
All I can say is that I did NOT expect that ending. Joey was by far my favorite character and I loved watching Joey’s and Ryan Dean’s friendships develop through the book. It had been a while since I cried at a character’s death (as in cried with actual tears) and Joey’s death was completely unexpected, to me at-least.
I liked the friendship aspect of the story more than the romantic aspect. I did like Annie though and I was rooting for Ryan Dean and Annie but I wasn’t as interested with them as a couple as I usually am in other books.
Up until the last few chapters, I was going to give the book 3 stars but it’s getting four stars because of that killer ending (though I would much rather have Joey living than dead). I think it shows how your life can turn upside down at a single event and how having people you love around you can make a big difference.