Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I received an ARC from NetGalley.com of Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican in exchange for an honest review.
It is a small miracle that any student at Saint Michael's actually has the time to take classes much less pass any of them given the whole dysfunctional nature of the school. The school charges a tuition which doesn't begin to cover the serious list of repairs that need to be done to the dilapidated building,yet parents still send their children to the place rather than to the public schools for which their tax dollars pay. In spite of Father Mercedes' constant harassment of Sister Maria, the principal of the school, nothing substantial ever gets done to resolve the deteriorating roof leaks nor any of the other structural damage that only gets worse with time. And then comes the incident of The Boy On The Roof that begins a downward spiral no one could have foreseen. The book begins with "Clink" Vickler so called because of the clinking noise the bag he carries with him makes when he moves. (Just a note here: Anthony Breznican MUST have been laughing or at the very least giggle-snorting when he named his characters. I know that's what I did while reading about them.) What began with some hazing from his classmates about the contents of his bag which escalated into name calling, like "animal murderer" Colin Vickler completely lost his cool, went to the roof of the school, and began an incident that eventually affects most of the student body and several of the teachers.
My favorite character in **Brutal Youth** is Hannah Kraut. She manages to convince the entire class that she is a force to be reckoned with, and she keeps hinting about a book she has been keeping that exposes inappropriate behavior from students and teachers. Without ever being very explicit, she has most of the class and a few adults convinced that what she knows will cause extreme havoc should the information ever reach the light of day. And yet there is also a softer side to Hannah that very few people ever get to see, but underneath all that bravado may actually beat a good heart after all. Maybe.
**Brutal Youth** is about bullying in a school that goes beyond name calling or even a random fist fight or two. It showcases just how brutal this practice can be when no one steps in and puts a stop to it. Plus it's spot on in its depiction of the clueless or unconcerned parent. The teenagers depicted in this book have to figure out most solutions to problems on their own because the adults who should be there for them are perpetually out to lunch. That's pretty accurate from what I've observed in my own parenting experience. And yet, despite the seriousness of the main subject, humor is as much a part of this story as the details of the chaos. I thought that was a remarkable feat for the author to pull off, and Breznican seemed to do it effortlessly.
One of the book shelves on my GoodReads site is for "best of 2014". That's one of the categories I will be using for **Brutal Youth** as well as a 5 Star rating. I hope Anthony Breznican plans on writing more stories, because I would really enjoy reading more of his work. I highly recommend **Brutal Youth** to anyone who likes intelligent, well-told stories that stay with the reader after the last page is finished. I plan to read it again, something I rarely do.
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