Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican
Publisher: Thomas Dunne/Macmillan
Publication Date: June 10, 2014
Source: Be Books Consulting


Three freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that’s even worse in Anthony Breznican’s Brutal Youth.

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.

My Thoughts:

About the Author

After reading the first few pages of Brutal Youth I knew two things for sure: this book is aptly named and I was thrilled to have been asked to take part in this tour.

Is Brutal Youth a YA novel? It’s about young adults, but that doesn’t mean that it’s geared towards young readers exclusively. I was going to use the trusty Google to find out for sure, but the fact that I couldn’t tell says a lot, don’t you think?

Brutal Youth is dark and comic, it’s joyful and nightmarish. In other words: it’s high school. Even though it’s been a number of years, this book brought me right back to those years. There comes a point in adulthood when we paint a glossy coat over our days in high school and forget what it’s really like. Brutal Youth reminded me. It reminded me hard.

The characters are spot on. The bullies, the survivors, the clueless parents, the teachers who care, and the teachers who don’t. I was crazy about Peter, Noah, and Lorelei and hated to say goodbye to them at the end of the book. I won’t be forgetting them anytime soon. They were real and they were heartbreaking.

Anthony Breznican has penned a extraordinary debut novel that is one of the most powerful and affecting reads of the year. I highly recommend it. 

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16 thoughts on “Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

  1. Oh my gosh – the author looks like a cross between John Mayer and Antonio Sabato, Jr!! Anyway – I've been hearing mixed things about this one, but I'm glad you liked it! I tend to love novels set in schools, so I might give this one a shot.


  2. I'm still not sure about this one; I may have read my quota of brutal books for now but it sounds like you liked it a lot so maybe I will keep it in the back of my mind.


  3. Wow, sounds grim! Not sure I could take this read (The Year of the Gadfly had me in knots) — but love the cover design — seems to match the book perfectly.


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