Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Well, Neal Shusterman has done it again. No matter what this guy writes, he does a darn good job of it.
In BRUISER, there are four different points of view. Sometimes this is hard to handle in a book when you're switching back and forth, but each character stayed themselves for at least a few chapters, so the switches felt completely seamless. The first two characters are Tennyson and Bronte, twin brother and sister (high-schoolers) whose parents have a couple issues they're dealing with. This affects the home life, which comes into play later on. The next two characters are Brewster (Bruiser--also in high school), and his little brother, Cody. (Neal wrote a bit about the different points of view and shared it on Goodreads, so if you'd like to check it out, click here. ***Warning... if you're like me and detest spoilers... don't check it out until you're halfway through the book.)
Since I try not to know too much about a book going into it, I was taken aback by the actual premise of BRUISER. For some reason I had in my head that this was going to be a "bully book". But oh, man. So different. Brewster stays away from everyone all the time, but the reason behind that choice is not what you think at all. In fact, as you begin to read you're convinced his uncle is a flat-out jerk and think you've got the problem solved and want to scream IT'S SO SIMPLE JUST DO THIS BREW!!!! but the further you get into the book, the more you realize so much is intertwined that the detangling would take a while... it's just like life... answers come in every shade of if and or but, maybe, and everything in between.
Tennyson and Bronte have an awesome relationship. They're close, as they've been together their entire lives, but at the same time, each has their own quirks. As the family dynamic changes, they stick together, which shows their strong bond. Tennyson loves to push Bronte's buttons; he plays lacrosse. Bronte is a smart cookie who wants to solve problems. (Brewster isn't an easy problem to solve.)
And Brewster and Cody... well... Brewster proves his love for Cody (without even trying) over and over and over again.
You know you've got a good book in your hands when lines throughout the ebook have been highlighted by readers numerous times. Take this one, by Tennyson, for instance:
You think you want to know the secrets of the universe. You think you want to see the way things fit altogether. You believe in your heart of hearts that enlightenment will save the world and set you free.
Maybe it will.
But the path to enlightenment is rarely a pleasant one.
Or this one, which I personally loved, by Bronte:
... Happiness is a vector. It's a movement. Like my own momentum across the pool, joy can only be defined by the speed at which you're moving away from the pain.
Certainly our family could reach a place of absolute, unchangeable bliss at Brew's expense; but the moment we arrived, the moment we stopped moving, joy would become as stagnant and hopeless as perpetual despair.
I'll be honest--I loved every single one of the characters. The quotes I chose make it seem like a very depressing book (sorry), but it's really not. I laughed out loud many times.
Brewster, however, holds a special place in my heart. Maybe it's the fact that he's the only one Neal wrote in verse novel form. Maybe it's because he sacrifices himself for everyone he cares about. I don't know. But I'll leave you with a short quote by Brewster (talking about his brother, Cody, and himself).
He nods and begins to cry,
But it only lasts an instant,
Because before a single tear falls,
His sorrow becomes mine,
A heaviness in my heart,
A sting in my eyes.
This is Brewster and the premise of the book, in a nutshell.
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