Author: Anthony Breznican
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Pub Date: June 10th 2014
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With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal —so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.
To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.
Brutal Youth was full of extraordinary characters with stories I’ll never forget. We had 6 main characters, 3 were adults (Sister Maria, Father Mercedes, and Mr.Zimmer) and 3 students (Stein, Davidek, and Loreli)
St.Mike’s was once a normal catholic school that upheld all the moral values stated in the bible, but all that changed as life got difficult for the seniors, they took it out on the freshmens.
“Those who felt the most pain had the most to dump on others.”
It turned into a bullying school where the younger freshman were tortured and constantly harassed. It got so bad that a kid began to attack teachers and students and then tried to kill himself (one of the most gory beginnings to a book I have ever read).
“Excuses. Maybe it’s the way you talk, or the color of your skin, or the color of your underwear, or whether you’ve got a clip-on around your neck. Assholes will find a reason to **** with you.”
Visiting students Stein and Davidek helped save a student and to avoid getting sued the school provided them a tuition which was the worst that could happen to them. From there things began to get insanely complicated. In a true high school fashion there were MANY characters, there were a few times I had to go back and remind myself who we were talking about.
One of my favorite things was how they actually got the difference between Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon, which like Stein is something I’ve had to constantly remind my teachers about. That earned itself its own star! Now as someone who has been bullied (never to this extent) this story hit close to home. We got too see all sides of the story, not just the victim but the bully.
Stein and Davidek were some of the greatest characters I’ve ever read. Steins is a rebel punk with a secret, there are many times when we think we know his story and it was very joker-esque
As for Davidek, he’s probably the swan of this whole book. He starts out as a regular nice guy just trying to get by, but of course getting by wasn’t going to be enough. Not at a school like St.Mikes
At first Loreli pissed me off, and I thought I would eventually like her but it never happened. She has an awful middle school life, full of bullying and broken friendships. She thinks she’s getting out when she goes to St.Mikes but she was wrong. Very wrong. From her first moment in St.Mike she makes bad choices, and she just keeps making them.
There’s also a huge mystery aspect to this book. Hannah Kraut, a girl who was being heavily bullied by not just the seniors but every other grade too and she decided to write down everyone’s secrets. Now being a senior herself and leaving she’s decided at the hazing picnic to read everyone’s secrets out loud. The thing is there’s the whole is it a rumor? Is it real? Will she read? It was so intense I stayed up all night just to figure out what happened and I have no regrets.
I was not a huge fan of the ending because I like happy endings were everyone has smiles and there are rainbows but this book did not end like that. Some of our characters got what they had coming, others were finally happy, but for the most part our characters simply survived. But as far as endings go, it did make cry and that’s usually a good sign.
Overall it’s an emotional and deep book. Its highly unpredictable and it’s the kind of book that stays with you forever.