Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bruiser was a quick read. In fact, I finished it in one sitting on the plane from Florida to Baltimore!
I picked this up with know prior knowledge besides my love for Neal Shusterman, and let me tell you, this did not disappoint. The first few chapters seem to set up a story of a boy from the wrong side of the tracks and the girl who falls for him, but soon you find out that this is something of a fantasy or sci-fi. Bruiser, the "bad boy," keeps his distance from people because he literally bears the pain for those he cares about. As a result, he is covered in the scrapes, bruises, and broken bones of the ones he loves.
The story is told in alternating perspective of Bruiser, has s girlfriend Bronte, her brother Tennyson, and Bruiser's younger brother Cody. As Shusterman discusses in interviews at the end of the book, each of these narrators tells a different part of coping with this curse.
I think the most interesting moral introspection that this novel brings up is that love is never selfless. Tennyson takes advantage of his friend's power. Bronte treats him as a charity project. And Cody, in my opinion the most interesting character, has no consideration whatsoever for the immense pain his brother suffers.
Leave it to Shusterman to come up with such a unique concept. The "magic" of Brewster's curse is never explained, but that didn't bother me one bit. Really it's just a tool to explore these characters and the inter workings of their lives. Well done as always, sir!
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