I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican
Published by MacMillan, St. Martin's Press on June 10, 2014
Genres: Young Adult
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With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the militantly religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek enrolls. 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 dark past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Pascall —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 malevolent administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their disturbed guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the plotting 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.
Kids can be cruel. And at St. Michael the Archangel High School, the adults can be even more so. This wasn’t a fun read – I wanted to take some of these kids home, give them a hug, and protect them. Dealing with bullying, rumors, bad home lives, corruption and deceit – it’s no wonder that a lot of the characters in this book were making bad choices and struggling to figure out what kind of person they wanted to be, what kind of person they should be, and what it would take to survive this year of high school. Peter Davidek and Noah Stein are two freshmen, who after witnessing a student snap after years of bullying, wind up as allies at their new school. Lorelei Pascal, who desperately wants a new beginning and popularity, completes their trio. St. Mike’s has a long tradition of “hazing” the incoming freshmen while the faculty looks the other way. Per tradition, the hazing is to continue all year and culminate with a Hazing Picnic where the freshmen endure their final humiliations. This year will be different. Pranks get out of hand, alliances change, secrets are revealed, and some students may take actions to make sure the school – and certain people’s lives – will never be the same. Not only are battles raging with the students, but also within the faculty. Power plays are being made, and one corrupt faculty member wants to not only make sure the school closes forever, but would love to take down some other faculty in the process. Brutal Youth by Anthony Brenzican was an excellent book, even though it was painful to read about how miserable some of the characters become. The non-conforming Stein was my favorite, with his painful and secret-filled past. I also liked the outcast Hannah, whose entire high school experience was ruined by one very nasty (and untrue) rumor. The plot took a few turns I wasn’t expecting, and I found myself anxiously waiting to find out what was going to happen. The ending definitely wasn’t a clean one that tied up all the loose ends or where everyone lived happily ever after, but it felt right.