Three freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that's even worse in Anthony Breznican's Brutal Youth
With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal —so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.
To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.
Brutal Youth is definitely not for everybody. This book was very realistic. This is not one of those movies were the victims end up being the heroes. No. This book was a very authentic painting of the unfair world we live in. It's about adults not caring, about despicable teenagers and good guys not always getting their happy ending. Throughout the book, I had this horrible feeling of sadness and anger. Sadness for these characters that deserved so much better than what they got. And anger because I just wanted to hurt someone! I do think, though that that was what the author wanted to provoke in us the readers. If that's the case then bravo Mr. Breznican, because man, this book brought many strong feelings out of me.
This book was very dark but at the same time very easy to read. One of our main characters, Pete Davidek, was one of the most-refreshing voices I've read in a long time. This kid stayed true to himself and his friends until the very end. I thought after reading some reviews that I was going to hate the ending of the book, but I actually loved it. The ending stayed true to the characters. True to one of the main points of the book (at least to me): good guys not always win, which is actually true. But, that doesn't mean that the "bad guys" won either. I don't want to spoil anything, but I think that it was a great ending. A satisfying ending.
I loved the way Brutal Youth made me feel. Even if it wasn't good feelings it still make me feel something. The characters all made me want to get to know them better even the ones I hated with all my heart because even they had a story. Stories that made me sympathize with them until I remembered their cruel and vile behavior, but the fact that Anthony Breznican made me forget their horrible ways and made me see them as human beings did make me realize how talented of a story teller he is.
I loved Brutal Youth and I think you should give it a try. I listened to the audiobook and thought that the narrator was brilliant. Darkly entertaining, fast-paced and unforgettable characters, I think and hope Brutal Youth will be a favorite for many readers.