Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kat Spears: Sway


Title:  Sway

Author:  Kat Spears

Publisher:  St. Martin's Press (set to release on Sept 16, 2014)

Pages:  320

Genre:  Young adult/fiction

Setting:  Modern day American suburbs

Where did you get it? This is an ARC from Netgalley.

Why did you read it? I chose to apply for this book because I loved the description of a "modern day Cyrano de Bergerac. Recently, I've felt compelled to pick up young adult novels. I have been enjoying the simplicity and straightforwardness that is more prevalent in young adult fiction.

From the publisher:  In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want—-term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.
But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?
A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion—-until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.
What did you think? First of all, I want to make clear that while the publisher has marketed this novel to 14-17 year olds, I, as a parent of teens, would be incredibly uncomfortable with my 15 year old (and even my 18 year old if I'm completely honest with myself) reading this book. The profanity, drug use, and the casual references to teen sex combined with the language used to describe sex are, in my opinion, too prolific. If this book were made into a movie without any changes, it'd be rated R. Okay then...
On the whole, I enjoyed this book. Spears' writing makes it so that I can hear Jesse's voice clear as day. He is hilarious, damaged, and has had to grow up too soon. He is definitely, out of all the characters in this book, the most memorable. I think that every 17 year old who reads this would wish that Jesse were their friend. 
Is Jesse the modern day Cyrano? Maybe but I think Jesse's motives were a little more selfish and definitely more dark. I think what really makes this book interesting and unique is that the reader roots for Jesse to get the girl but not, necessarily, for the girl to get the guy. 
For a debut novel, Kat Spears has a well-written and edited book that's unique and fun to read. Still, my "reader discretion" message above keeps me from saying that I would highly recommend this book. To whom? I'd recommend it to my friends before my daughters or their friends. 3 out of 5 stars.

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