Published by Macmillan on 6/10/2014
Source: BE Books Consulting
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On the day students and staff at St. Michael’s High School should be impressing the visiting prospective students, Colin “Clink” Vickler sets off a chain of events as he begins hauling glasses of preserved animals off the building’s roof. Over the course of the next year, a circle of freshman who witnessed Clink’s violent outcry attempt to navigate the brutal waters of St. Michael’s and work together to break down its perpetually ignored hazing system.
Breznican populates St. Michael’s with wonderfully flawed characters full of layers that take the course of the story to be revealed. But as the novel expands from the brilliance of its opening sequence, the sheer number of personalities makes it difficult to stay invested in one before abruptly shifting to another. Despite my interest in Brutal Youth‘s plot, I regularly found myself wishing I could combine the close lens of its first pages with the great character development demonstrated throughout.
Still, Breznican is extremely successful in crafting a story that will spark discussion and open dialogue, which would make it a great pick for book clubs. There’s much to turn over regarding the prevalence of bullying, it’s impact, and how school culture itself has changed since the novel’s early 90’s setting. In Brutal Youth, Anthony Breznican dives deep into the darkest corners of high school life and reappears with an intriguing tale well worth checking out.