Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican
Although originally written for the adult audience, I’m sure this title will find fans here at Berkeley High. In an interview on National Public Radio, the author said “It’s kinda like Fight Club meets the Breakfast Club.” This book describes the freshman year of Peter Davidek at a Catholic high school that’s been allowing its seniors to haze the ninth graders for years. It’s not exactly that they condone it, it’s just that they look at it as a ” ‘fun’ bonding exercise for the newcomers.” Except that the activities are anything but fun for the underclassmen. In fact, during Peter’s open house visit at St. Michael’s a long-harassed student everyone called Clink barricaded himself on the roof and began kicking over the statues of saints onto the students in the courtyard below. On that same day Peter meets two other eighth graders who will struggle through this first horrific year with him– the volatile Noah Stein and the eager-to-please Lorelei Paskal. In addition to the culture of bullying, the local parish priest is trying to find a way to close down the failing high school in order to hide secrets of his own.
I enjoyed this book and am surprised it’s not being cross- advertised to young adults. The protagonist is a high school freshman going through the worst hell all eighth graders imagine might be waiting for them. I think this dark story is a good fit for readers who enjoy the Alexander Gordon Smith Lockdown series and the popular Maze Runner books. The characters speak more with their actions that any author description, and the action is relentless and often surprising. I would recommend this for mature readers.
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