Winger by Andrew Smith
As a fourteen-year-old high school junior, Ryan Dean West is already somewhat of an oddball at the prestigious, expensive boarding school he goes to in northern California. But he is determined that this year will be different–he will fit in and not be such a wimp, not be quite so geeky, and escape from his obnoxious roommate in the O-Hall building reserved for the school’s special miscreants. (Ryan Dean ended up there after he was caught hacking a teacher’s cell phone account.) He plays wing on the school’s rugby team, hence his nickname Winger. Besides being stuck in the worst dorm conceivable, he is also hopelessly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks he’s an “adorable” little kid.
I have to say that this is one of the best books I’ve read this year! Author Andrew Smith has the knack of getting into the head of a teenaged boy that’s so realistic. This character is also so hilarious I found myself laughing out loud a bunch of times. “Nothing that bordered on the undisciplined or unorthodox was tolerated at PM (Pine Mountain School). Not even facial hair, not that I had anything to worry about a far as that rule was concerned. I’d seen some girls at PM who came closer to getting in trouble over that rule than me. The only thing I’d ever shaved was maybe a few points off a Calculus test so my friends wouldn’t hate me if I set the curve too high.” The way Smith describes his characters makes readers fall in love with them, even when they’re brawny rugby types who would rather discuss a disagreement with their fists as opposed to talking it out. I highly recommend this book to all teen readers because everyone will find a character with which to identify. There’s also lots of swearing and bad sex jokes, but nothing that the average teenager doesn’t hear in the hallways at school.