Review: Winger by Andrew Smith

Winger Book Cover Winger
Andrew Smith

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. 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.


I need to stop letting books affect me like this. I’m going to wind up in the loony bin one of these days.

Winger threw me for a loop. My head is spinning, and I’m a little upset right now. As a result, please forgive me if this review isn’t completely logical or clear. To help you out, I’ll tell you up front what you need to know: you have to get your hands on this book. Right now.

Winger is one of those books that’s so special and fun that you feel privileged to have the chance to read it, and I enjoyed it so much that I started mentally writing my review before I was even finished with the novel. I had quotes ready to showcase just how gut-bustingly funny Smith’s writing is and how it made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe. I was prepared to mention phrases such as “catastrophic penis injury” and “‘I’m going to write you a sonnet about how nothing could possibly be gayer than writing your friend a haiku.’”

I was ready to gush and on about how happy this story made me, and how it is such a warm, feel-good tale with unforgettable characters, an entertaining plot, and enough clever pranks and stunts to keep me chuckling to myself for the next month. I was going to mention how the comics and diagrams that accompany the text really enhance the story and planned to rave about the loveable protagonist, the excellent portrayal of the rugby team’s camaraderie, and the million other things I loved about this book.

And then, out of nowhere – BAM! – the whole book did a complete 180. It felt like my previously fun, adorable puppy had just turned around and tried to rip my face off.

I can’t tell you what, exactly, happened to make me feel such a sense of shock and betrayal. That would be cheating, and it would ruin the book for you. Just know this: despite how much it messed me up, I still can’t recommend Winger enough. There is no doubt that this book is exceptional, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take the time to read it.

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