In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WINGER by Andrew Smith


copyright date: May 2013
primarily marketed for: Young Adults (high school)

Have you ever read Looking for Alaska by John Green?  I never thought I would ever read another book that I could recommend as being just as good as Looking for Alaska.  Until I read Winger by Andrew Smith. 

I laughed audibly at fictional characters while reading this book.  My heart ached for fictional characters while reading this book.  I had tears streaming down my face over fictional characters while reading this book. 

It is a good book.  Great book.  Incredible book. 

It is about a brilliant fourteen-year-old kid at a boarding school with sixteen-year-olds.  After getting into some cell-phone trouble, this self-proclaimed runt is thrust into living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troubled students.  The kind of troubled students who would love to squash a fourteen-year-old boy.  To make matters worse, he is in love with his best friend, a gorgeous sixteen-year-old girl who is far beyond his reach. 

However, the story of the underdog is not what makes this one of the best books I’ve ever read.  What is so incredibly moving is how this story is told.  And I am not referring to the excess of bad language (that is somehow hilarious and charming, perhaps because the protagonist confesses that he only writes with this language and could never actual speak such words), or the humor surrounding bathrooms and injuries to male body parts (though these may have been moments when I was caught laughing), or even the drawings laced throughout the book (that are as funny and worth stopping to interpret as the language and humor).

I am referring to the way Smith brings to life each and every character who inhabits this story.  Not a single person fades into the background of the text.  And just when you are high on the wild ride of sarcastic, self-deprecating humor and romance, the story comes to a complete halt.  It is like watching a movie when all the sound fades away.  When the image on the screen exists in complete silent stillness.  I am not even sure I took a single breath while reading the final third of the book. 

This is not a story for young readers.  It is a coming of age story filled with mature situations and language. However, amidst the humor, it is a story grounded in moral goodness.  And everyone should read it.    


  1. I'm enjoying your reviews thoroughly, Christy. This is on my list of must read-have seen more than one say it's terrific!

  2. Haven't ordered this book yet, although I kept seeing it mentioned on Twitter. I just moved it to the top of my list. I have a few boys I bet would love this!