Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Review: Stick by Andrew Smith

Title: Stick
Author: Andrew Smith
Reading Level: Older Young Adult
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Hardcover,
Date Published: October 11, 2011
Source: Publisher
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Fourteen-year-old Stark McClellan (nicknamed Stick because he’s tall and thin) is bullied for being “deformed” – he was born with only one ear. His older brother Bosten is always there to defend Stick. But the boys can’t defend one another from their abusive parents.

When Stick realizes Bosten is gay, he knows that to survive his father's anger, Bosten must leave home. Stick has to find his brother, or he will never feel whole again. In his search, he will encounter good people, bad people, and people who are simply indifferent to kids from the wrong side of the tracks. But he never loses hope of finding love – and his brother.
Andrew Smith has a knack for creating unforgettable characters in astounding situations. He refuses to hold back with his storytelling and gives the reader characters that go through gritty, raw, and oftentimes, difficult and traumatic happenings. Stick is no exception to that.

Stark McClellan, known as Stick to most because of his incredible height, is a fourteen year old living in hell. He was born with one ear into an abusive family and has a self-loathing that’s heartbreaking and an innocence reminiscent of Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Stick’s only salvation comes in the form of his brother, Bosten, and his best friend Emily. He has this undeniable love for both of them, despite his constant hatred for himself.

The plot advances slowly, but with such precision and in such unnervingly painful ways that it’s impossible to put down. Stick and Bosten suffer and suffer and then suffer some more. They aren’t loved by their parents; they aren’t protected by the other adults around them. They have each other, and Emily and Bosten’s maybe boyfriend Buck, but that isn’t enough – not when Stick isn’t even whole and Bosten can barely manage to get by; not when they walk through their front door and fear the worst.

Instantly, I was captivated by these two boys and their harsh circumstances. I was taken by their struggles and wanted to protect them both. Stick’s matter of fact thinking and childlike wonderment invoke this undeniable need to shield him – from his father, from his mother, from all the bad things in the world that could hurt him. I loved him, dearly. I loved Bosten. I cared about Buck. I wished Dahlia could have been there from the beginning. And I adored Emily.

This book, these characters – they aren’t just mere words on paper – they come to life. The occasional change in formatting highlights the way Stick hears the world around him and helps the reader feel the story even more. Andrew Smith is a master at creating vivid stories with as much hope as there is heartbreak and I will continue to look forward to each and every novel he writes.

Opening line: They call me Stick. ~ pg. 5
Favorite lines/passages (this first one is even more affecting when you read the book):
On a Friday
before Saint Patrick’s Day,
Emily Lohman planted a miracle in me.

When I woke up
when I woke up

in the morning
my chains were loose. ~ pgs. 248-249

And another one:

Bosten and I could never let that sea
separate and drown us.
We were all we ever had. ~ pg. 282

As there is always someone who creates a big stir, here's a fair warning - there's plenty of foul language and sex talk in the book. It didn't bother me and I don't see it bothering most YA readers, but it's there
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Andrew Smith online:

Buy it online:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Indiebound

*Minor swearing in trailer*
 

2 comments:

BookLuvr Mindy said...

I love books that make me have a soft spot for more than a couple characters.

Great review!

bookluvrmindy
Magical Urban Fantasy Reads

Andrew Smith said...

Thank you so much for this. I honestly did not think that people would "get" this book, and it's so gratifying to see the positive reactions to this very quiet novel. I love this review. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

--Andrew

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