Review: Winger (Winger #1) by Andrew Smith


Winger by Andrew Smith 
Winger #1
Young Adult | Contemporary | Realistic Fiction
Published by Simon & Schuster on May 14, 2013

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.

There’s something incredibly refreshing about a book that focuses on growing up (Ryan Dean is 14 years old) and living your life yet still follows a plot. Although the plot wasn’t mountain moving like saving a country or destroying a government, it was very clear: get Annie to fall in love with Ryan Dean. That wasn’t exactly an easy task considering Ryan Dean was 14 and Annie was 16 along with the fact that Ryan Dean thinks every girl is hot. He’s also a major pervert.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” Annie said. “Did you bring any swim trunks? We have an indoor pool and Jacuzzi.”
“Wow,” I said. “No. I didn’t.”
I looked down, then shrugged and looked over at Annie and whispered, “I’ll go without.”

Therefore, not am I only glad that I get to read about a hilariously perverted 14 year old boy, I get to read a hilariously perverted 14 year old boy who learns that life is more about girls and more about living.

Ryan Dean + Joey

Those two–the two amigos–are basically the one reason I finished this book. Not only is Ryan Dean the best character I can think of ever, Joey is a great secondary character. In fact, Joey didn’t even feel like a side character. He seemed just as much involved in this book as Ryan Dean. Once Ryan Dean and Joey became friends, this book really took off.

I think the fact that Joey was blunt with Ryan Dean in his actions and what he said really helped our protagonist grow in a way he wouldn’t have without Joey.


I absolutely love the fact that there’s a “delinquent hall” in this rich-kid school. It makes rich kids seem more than just rich kids, in my opinion. In fact, I loved the school in general. The teachers/faculty were a bit strange, but isn’t that how real schools are? I think so.

Might I add… Annie’s house, man. I want that girl’s house. I honestly didn’t realize that the book was set in Oregon until I found out that Annie and Ryan Dean, when they went to her house for the weekend, only traveled to Seattle. Seattle. I find it so cool when books have a setting that’s close to where I live. (I’m not in Seattle, though, so don’t stalk me literally??)

Andrew Smith is hilarious

I’d love to give credit to Ryan Dean for being so hilarious, but I know for a fact that it’s really the author Andrew Smith who is the hilarious one. And may I just say that Smith has written literally the funniest novel I have read in a long time.

And in my prayer, I made sure to include specific thanks for the fact that the school year hadn’t started yet, so the porcelain was impeccably white–as soothing to the eye as freshly fallen snow–and the water smelled liek lemons and a heated swimming pool in summertime, all rolled into one.
Except it was a f*cking toilet.
And my head was in it.

Poor Ryan Dean.

I’d recommend it to everybody!

I honestly would recommend Winger to everybody. In fact, I’ve already recommended it to two people and made my best friend read it. It was that good. This is definitely a book that I’ll want to read in the future. Thank you, Andrew Smith, for writing a novel that I will most likely be reading as much as Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars (and I’ve reread those at least 5 times over each).


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