Bruiser (Scholastic 2010) by Neal Shusterman is one of those books that stays with you long after you close the last page. I read it just after spring break, and I’m still thinking about it. What does it mean to share the pain of the people you love? What cost are you willing to pay to care? What secrets are you willing to keep to make your own pain go away?
Brewster–nicknamed Bruiser by the kids at school–is a social outcast. His hulking body lurks around the edges of school life, keeping everyone at a distance until Bronte reaches out to him. Bronte’s twin brother Tennyson (I love the names!) is determined to break up the new couple. Bronte and Tennyson discover that there is much more going on with Brewster than meets the eye. As their lives become more entwined, Brewster’ secret is revealed until a devastating conclusion.
Tennyson, Bronte, Brewster, and even little brother Cody take turns telling the story. Tennyson is cocky and a bit of a bully. When he doesn’t get his way, he will make someone pay the price. Bronte is stubborn and will not give up until she finds out the answers to her questions, even when the answers may cause more harm. Cody just wants his big brother to be there for him, to take away his pain. Finally, Brewster expresses all his pain and rage through poetry. What will happen to him if he lets more people in?
There is much more to this book, but I don’t want to give anything away. Just read it and come back to tell me what you think.