Book Review–Brewster by Mark Slouka

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This is the forty-ninth book from my 200 Book Reading Challenge.

Picture Source: Goodreads.com
Picture Source: Goodreads.com


Brewster by Mark Slouka

Published August 5th, 2013

A powerful story about an unforgettable friendship between two teenage boys and their hopes for escape from a dead-end town.

The year is 1968. The world is changing, and sixteen-year-old Jon Mosher is determined to change with it. Racked by guilt over his older brother’s childhood death and stuck in the dead-end town of Brewster, New York, he turns his rage into victories running track. Meanwhile, Ray Cappicciano, a rebel as gifted with his fists as Jon is with his feet, is trying to take care of his baby brother while staying out of the way of his abusive, ex-cop father.

When Jon and Ray form a tight friendship, they find in each other everything they lack at home, but it’s not until Ray falls in love with beautiful, headstrong Karen Dorsey that the three friends begin to dream of breaking away from Brewster for good. Freedom, however, has its price. As forces beyond their control begin to bear down on them, Jon sets off on the race of his life—a race to redeem his past and save them all.

—-

Many thanks to W.W. Norton and Company for giving me the chance to read and review this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.

In a way, Brewster kind of reminded me of the book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Both are from a teen male POV, both are set in older time periods, both are coming-of-age stories, and the main characters are sort of similar.

The thing that makes Brewster different is that there are different internal conflicts and most of the story centers around Jon and his friend, Ray. I liked and connected well to the characters. Jon was a lot like a wallflower–he seemed to mostly be viewing things around him and staying off to the sides. Yet he has also endured some hardships in his life–such as losing an older brother, his parents mostly ignoring him, especially his mother–that really made me feel for him. I also thought it was neat that Jon’s family is Jewish and how this tied into the book.

The only thing I disliked about Jon’s POV was the times in which I would forget the MC’s name, since it seemed like it was rarely mentioned by anyone (minus the two times that Ray uses it, as this is pointed out twice).

I loved the relationship between Jon and Ray. The friendship felt real and true. I also liked Ray, his little brother, Gene, and his girlfriend, Karen. The relationship between Ray and Gene was too sweet. The relationship between Ray and his dad was very realistic and tragic.

I like how the current issues–segregation, racism, the war, abuse–were also addressed. The setting/time period was well described almost to the point of me being actually there.

As for the writing style, Slouka writes beautifully and in a poetic way, but there were times in which I got easily confused because it seemed like he was being vague. I’m also still trying to figure out how Jon’s brother died exactly.

I felt the ending was a bit rushed, but overall I enjoyed this story. It’s tragic but also beautiful and a true tale of friendship and a powerful coming-of-age story. If you liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower or books about friendship and/or coming-of-age stories, this is probably a great read for you.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

3stars

jncname

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