Author: Anthony Breznican


Take a Trip Back to High School in Brutal Youth

November 21, 2014 Book Review, reviews 5

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Take a Trip Back to High School in Brutal YouthBrutal Youth by Anthony Breznican
Published by Macmillan on June 10th, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Source: complimentary review copy


Perhaps I lived under a rock in high school.  I’m actually really, really glad I didn’t go to a private school, especially one as, um, toxic, as St. Michaels in Brutal Youth.  Did you know that some private high schools actually sanction hazing?

Filled with snippets of profoundness like Everyone bullies somebody, and When people didn’t like you, they got in your way.  When they didn’t care about you, they let you get in your own way.    The first scene is gripping, horrifying ~ like watching a train wreck happen.  Peter Davidvek happens to be doing a freshman tour on the day Colin “Clink” loses it after years of brutalized bullying.  Because his parents do not believe Peter’s version of the events {everything is hushed up in the newspaper and as it’s the early ’90s there’s no social media or cell phones at the ready} Peter ends up attending St. Michaels.

The Cast

Peter Davidvek ~ the likable freshman who tries to do the right thing {like save a boy in the opening chapter only to incur the wrath of the guidance counselor, Ms. Bromine, and the utter disbelief of his parents}

Noah Stein ~ gutsy, take-no-crap attitude scarred-face friend of Peter and partner-in-crime {actually partner in trying to save the boy from harm by kissing Ms. Bromine while Peter pulled boy to safety ~ see what I mean about gutsy?!?}

Lorelei Paskal ~ also new incoming freshman with something to prove.  She simply wants to be popular and will go to surprising lengths to gain that popularity.  Also in a sort-of love triangle with Peter and Noah.

Ms. Bromine ~ guidance counselor, teacher, ultimate mean girl {yep, she’s the mean girl abusing her position and power in ways you will not believe!}

Father Mercedes ~ his church {and buildings} are crumbling and falling down around him and he just wants it to end so he can start over fresh.

Sister Maria ~ the well-intentioned but completely ineffective principal

Brutal Youth had the feel of early ’90s high school amped up to the nth degree.  The writing is absorbing with clear ability to drag emotions out of its reader whether it be anger in a “no, she did not just say that-” kind of way or a cringing kind-of compassion wishing you could jump through the pages, hug a student and tell her “there is really a better way.”  The one thing I will especially commend Anthony Breznican about is his ability to drag me back to high school even though I never stepped foot in a private school.  There’s something so universal about the emotions one goes through as a freshman that Anthony was able to effectively communicate on the pages of Brutal Youth.

While the youth in the novel were clearly developed, well-rounded characters, the adults were almost garish in comparison.  I probably feel that way because there is not a single adult I liked in the book.  As a matter of fact, I wanted to slap most of them, especially Peter’s out-of-touch parents.

The first chapter is a hold-your-breath, edge-of-the-seat introduction to Brutal Youth and plateaus somewhat after the explosive beginning.  Not necessarily a bad thing as my heart certainly could not have taken many more chapters that emotional.  Recommended for anyone who went to high school in the 80’s, early 90’s or someone who wants to know what not to do as a high school guidance counselor. . .and for anyone who simply enjoys the emergence of a debut author with a unique sense of humor and writing ability galore.

Be sure to check out my interview with the author in which he shares his own stories of private Catholic school ~ terrifying!

How were your high school days?  Have a beloved teacher story or a vindictive, hateful, horrible teacher story {we all probably have one of those I imagine!}?

Many thanks to BE Consulting for including me on the Blog Tour!