Currently Reading: Brewster

Jon Mosher, our narrator, is something of a loner.  He grows up the son of immigrant parents, who left their home fleeing the Nazis only to be broken by the tragic death of their other young son.  After that horrible accident, Jon's house is a quiet place.  His mother barely speaks to him, so haunted is she by the loss of his brother.

Jon strikes up an unlikely friendship with the school bad boy, Ray.  Ray is a fighter, always coming to school with bruises and black eyes that he collects in underground fighting rings.  Or so the rumors say.  The two make a curious pair, but theirs is a friendship that grows into something bigger than reputation and more important that popularity.  

I would argue that the plot is secondary to the mood, the tone that the book sets.  It is winter, cold, permanently grey.  Ice, slush, and snow are everywhere.  Slouka captures what it is to be a teenager, isolated in your small town.  That sense of being alone, being trapped runs throughout all the characters.  Watching your best friend fall in love with the girl you've already fallen in love with.  Running track not for the camaraderie or the trophies, but for the feeling of pain that pounding out those miles gives you.  Spending those dark, dreary days planning out a summer that will never come to fruition.

Brewster is beautiful, but it is dark and it is depressing.  This isn't a story of triumphing over obstacles and coming out better on the other side.  It is a story that is relentless in its sadness, in its bad luck.  When you think that Ray has to catch a break, he just has to, he doesn't.  When you feel that Jon can't take any more hurt, he does.  It's an unforgiving story, but a truly, hauntingly beautiful one that needs to be told.

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