I decided to check out BRUISER after reading Kelly’s recommendation, and I’m so glad I did. It was one of the best book decisions I’ve made in a while:)
BRUISER begins as a gentle love story between swimmer Bronte and loner Brewster with all the usual suspects: Bronte’s overprotective brother, Tennyson; Brewster’s quirky younger brother, Cody; Bronte’s in-the-middle-of-their-mid-life-crises parents; Brewster’s alcoholic uncle. But when Bronte discovers Brewster’s gift to absorb physical and emotional pain, the novel takes an unexpected turn. And that’s where the story stays. In un-expectation.
The novel unfolds through the first-person narration of four characters, and yet each of these four voices is distinctive and engaging. Tennyson’s chapters read like something written by an actual teenage boy, which isn’t the easiest point-of-view to pull off (although I would expect Mr. Shusterman, who was once a teenage boy himself, to be able to handle that point-of-view better than, say, me), and Brewster’s chapters, which are written in stunning free verse, provide both the novel’s highest highs and its lowest lows. Moreover, the storyline feels fresh and fully developed, like Mr. Shusterman really took the time to explore the implications of his plot points and the consequences of his characters’ decisions.
BRUISER reads like a contemporary, but the not-normal twist definitely pushes this into the category of genre-bending for me. It’s a fantastic read from start to finish, one that I’ll be recommending for years to come.