Read Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican Online


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 YouthWith a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religiouThree 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 YouthWith 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....

Title : Brutal Youth
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781250067890
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 432 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Brutal Youth Reviews

  • James Dashner
    2019-03-23 03:49

    I was very lucky to read this book early. It's just amazing! So powerful in so many ways. Here's an official "blurb" I wrote up for Anthony and his publisher, and I can't say it any better:Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican is one of the best, most thought-provoking, troubling, captivating stories I've read in a long time. My heart still hurts when I think of what those characters went through. Breznican does a fantastic job of creating characters you fall in love with, making you experience their pain and cheer their triumphs as each page goes by. Their stories, particularly those of Clink, Stein, Hannah, and Davidek, will haunt me for some time to come. The anti-bullying message is earned, heartily, instead of being thrust in your face, as first and foremost the book is an intriguing, rich, perfectly paced, entertaining read. I also enjoyed the dark humor that offsets the harrowing tone at just the right spots. Highly recommended.

  • karen
    2019-03-09 03:52

    Everybody is somebody's bullyi liked so very many things about this book1) that first chapter. jesus, what a stunner. probably the best opening chapter i have read since This is Not a Test2) that cover.3) hannah ♥ a truly memorable character4) the secret behind the allure of the east staircase. however, there were some missteps.i'll save my complaints for the end, because overall, i thought this was fantastic, and a really strong debut. it takes place at st. michael's - a private catholic high school in pittsburgh in the early nineties. the school has fallen on hard times - the parish church has burned down, and since then, the gym has been designated as a temporary chapel, which means students can only let off all that adolescent physical energy when the weather is nice and gym can be held outside. funding to rebuild the church has been slow to come, and there has been some financial impropriety by father mercedes, which contributes to the overall decline. the school itself is falling apart - the roof is leaking, enrollment is down, and the morale of teachers and students alike is plummeting. father mercedes sees the closing of the school as his only chance to rebuild the church, and is secretly looking for any reason to do so.into this environment walk three first-year students: the likably naive peter davidek, noah stein with his mysteriously scarred face and survivor's "take no shit" attitude, and lorelei paskal - trying to learn from the mistakes she made at her old school and just wanting everyone to like her this time around, complete with a checklist for her behavior.some of the secondary characters are worth mentioning here, because they are so perfectly-rendered in their different ways: audra, green, lerose, and the aforementioned hannah ♥.st michael's has a long tradition of sanctioning bullying in the form of a hazing initiation. the school condones this behavior, because they feel hazing eventually leads to peer bonding, and it is believed that this harmless ritual will lead to the seniors feeling protective of their personal freshman targets. many of the pranks are in fact harmless - making the freshman act like dogs, or stealing the girls' make-up, but the decline in morale at the school, and the desperate loosening of standards for enrollment has lent to a more aggressive tone to these hazing practices. traditionally, the year-long hazing culminates in one final grand event - the annual picnic, during which the most sensational hazing occurs. among the freshman class, rumors spread and fear pervades.Anxiety had taken over the newcomers. Everyone knew about the hazing, but no one was sure what to do about it, or how bad it would one student predicts:"All seniors got their asses decapitated when they were freshmen, and it boils in them for years. Now they're gonna give it back"the seniors see hazing as "our turn," and that justified payback is a right: What kind of legacy would their oppressed senior class leave if nobody did and goddamned initiating?stein is the only student who refuses to be manipulated or provoked into participating in the hazing. he is quick to defend himself and others, either verbally or physically, and eventually, he is left alone because he's seen to be more trouble than he is worth to antagonize.stein has his own code of behavior and self-protection"I'm not saying not to fight back," Stein whispered. "I'm saying when they kick you, thank God because they just gave you a license to kick their asses back, and kicking asses is fun!" He flipped through the pages of a notebook. "This is your school, Davidek. Your life, your place in the world - a bunch of blank pages. You got to fill it up with what you want. So they say, 'Do all this homework, you're in suspension.' But what do I do?" He slid the notebook across the table, and Davidek looked at the pages Stein had been scribbling in all morning. It was a collection of crude cartoons - Bromine eating a plate of turds, Bromine having sexual intercourse with a giraffe, Bromine snipping off Mankowski's penis with a pair of scissors. "Your problem," Stein told him, "is you don't know how to be happy with your unhappiness."and he offers up a lot of wisdom to davidek throughout the book:One trick to getting away with something was to know that bragging equals confessingdavidek and stein form a fast bond, after the events in that stunning opener, which take place during their orientation and involve a victim of hazing who has been pushed too far. their participation in what follows both cements their friendship and makes them an enemy in ms. bromine, the brittle and vindictive guidance counselor. the two boys will also form a wobbly and complicated love triangle with lorelei, with unexpected results.the book is described as "Fight Club meets The Breakfast Club," which is fine and sound-bitey, but the closing lines of the flap-copy: 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, is a little misleading. it's true that bad things happen. many, many bad things. but they aren't the result of these characters "going bad." for the most part, stein and davidek try to do the right thing, and lorelei just gets caught up in her impossible goal of pleasing everyone and makes some decisions based on that weakness that have consequences. this isn't a story about some kids sick of being bullied and fighting back, as the synopsis implies - it is more about the way different people respond to a climate of bullying: submitting, resisting, or finding a way to adapt.the multiplicity of perspectives gives a truly well-rounded sense of the different character's motivations. we get to see interactions and situations from different angles, and can only watch helplessly as misunderstandings occur and we witness how close so many events came to working out okay, but then did not, because of one unfortunate decision. it's a tricky kind of writing to pull off, and he does it several times here with great success. lorelei's toxic and loveless home life, stein's secret, hannah's vengeance plot, the unfairness these kids face every day - everything accumulates and festers and will contribute to how things spin out of control. the reader's awareness of these motivations makes us a little more sympathetic to some of the inexcusable acts, but despite this understanding, i thought this book was incredibly ballsy to refrain from giving a happy ending to all the characters. this book is very honest when it comes to forgiveness - some acts are inexcusable, and not everyone can be redeemed or rescued. i'm kind of surprised that this keep being listed on here as YA. it isn't being marketed as YA, it isn't priced as YA, it's in the adult section at BN… i know that most of the characters are teenagers, and i can see that there might be crossover appeal, with the us-against-them attitude so clearly demarcated between the kids and the adults; the division between the powerless and the powerful, but this doesn't read like YA at all to me. it takes place in a pre-internet world and so doesn't address the modern iterations of bullying that occur in the digital age, so while the bullying themes are still completely relevant, it's almost a little less vicious because it's so personal. you don't get the same free-for-all aspect you get with cyberbullying, and it's almost quaint when you can put a face to your enemy. so, on to the things i thought were weakest. the adults here are almost hypercolor-bad, cartoonishly inept or cruel - parents, administrators. teachers. he does try to account for the pretty much across-the-board adult cruelty with hannah's explanation of the trickle-down effects of disappointment/violence/abuse:"You're sweet, Peter, but do you understand why everyone at this school is so fucking miserable?"He shrugged. "Tough times, I guess…""Tough times," she repeated. "Actually, it's because the church is putting pressure on Father Mercedes, he's kicking Sister Maria's ass, she's beating up on the teachers, and the teachers are coming down as hard as they can on the students, who are shoving it back on each other. Everybody's pissed off and wants to fucking hit somebody, but this whole system has only one rule: You can't hurt anyone who can hurt you back. So Sister Maria can't clock Father Mercedes, the teachers can't tell Sister Maria to fuck off, and the students can't punch out the teachers. They have to take it out on someone else. That's you and me. We're at the bottom of the pyramid."but this sort of knee-jerk cruelty by ms. bromine, mankowski, etc. seems too exaggerated. in a book that was more satirical it would fit, but it seems unrealistic here, and nearly camp. there are exceptions, of course - sister maria and zimmer are well-intentioned, although effectively neutered, but i think this is what makes it feel the closest to YA - the us vs them dichotomy - the kids are also cruel, but there is an unmet expectation that adults should be protectors and the fact that they're not is reminiscent of those typical teen-movies from the 80's, where parents are distracted, absent or clueless:and hannah's defiant scrawl you couldn't remember me if you tried also feels very john hughes-ish, and would scan very well into this particular teen-anthemso while i found that to be a little too relentlessly black-and-white, this book is incredibly addictive. he has a great energy, the story just flies by, and i am very eager to see what comes next from him.

  • Delee
    2019-03-19 05:58

    Now there's a tragic waste of brutal youthStrip and polish this unvarnished truthThe tricky door that gapes beneath the ragged nooseThe crippled verdict begs again for the lamest excuse...Elvis Costello- Favourite HourI am really surprised there wasn't more buzz around BRUTAL YOUTH- maybe there was and I missed it somehow, but by the time I happened across this fabulous discovery- the release was just days away. Alluring cover, appealing title, and gripping plot description....everything about this book said "READ ME NOOOOW"!! [image error]Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania- Spring 1991-14-year-old Peter Davidek attends open house at St. Michael the Archangel High School, and gets just a taste of how horrible things will get when he returns in the Fall as a student. [image error]The teachers have lost control, the unruly students are running the show and bullied Colin "Clink" Vickler aka Creepy Colin has finally reached his breaking point- unleashing his fury and frustration on those around him. Visitors Peter and Noah Stein work together to help a student caught in the crossfire- but instead of being heroes- the whole incident is hushed up and nothing at St. "Mikes" changes for the better.[image error][image error]Fall 1991-It's the first day of school- Peter and Noah reunite and quickly become best friends. Soon. fellow freshman- the pretty Lorelei Pascal- gets added into the mix, and the three form a bond while trying to survive the hallowed halls of hell.[image error]BRUTAL YOUTH is listed as YA- in my opinion this is Young Adult and Adult. Suitable for all ages. Lord of the Flies in a high school setting- but with a style all of its own...and better. Advanced reader copy provided by NetGalley.

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    2019-02-27 05:44

    This review will contain some cusswords..probably a whole lot of cusswords.St. Michael's is a private school that has a history of hazing. The frigging teachers, principals and parents turn a blind eye to it. It's all harmless fun. Fucking bullies.In the prologue we get a glimpse of this innocent fun as a student has had enough and is tossing off statues and embalmed creatures at fellow students from the roof of the school. Then school begins. The story mainly focuses on three freshman students Stein, Davidek and Lorelei. There are so many more characters that come into play in this book though. I swear I think I talked out loud to this book, I cussed it, I flipped it birds...but I could not stop reading it. Disturbing and dark and way too easily pictured as coming to life.You think you would just hate the stupid ass teenagers in this book, but no the fucking teachers are just as bad if not worse.This frigging book will haunt me. I don't think it's going to leave my mind for some time. I don't even really know how to review it. I need to sit in the corner in time out for awhile.For now..I'm still cussing it. Because it gutted me.

  • karen
    2019-02-22 02:30

    With school back in session, the artist Cassandra Siemon has created illustrations to accompany excerpts of the dark coming-of-age novel Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican, which is new in paperback. The book is about dirty deeds, broken hearts, and double-crosses at a crumbling Catholic high school that has become a dumping ground for troublemakers, losers, misfits, and the unlucky. Don’t let the blazers, ties, and plaid skirts fool you. There’s nothing civilized happening within these walls.As the book opens, one of the students who has been savagely picked on for years finally snaps in a flash of violence and finds himself on the run. After hiding out on the roof, he discovers there’s nowhere to go – except down.But he wants to see who else he can take with him.The kid had taken a lot of punishment over the years, so he had much to give back.A steel hatch on the roof of St. Michael the Archangel High School shuddered, then burst open, and the boy crawled out and collapsed against the gritty tarpaper surface, kicking the lid shut again with one sock-covered foot. He wore only his uniform gray slacks and a wide-open button-down shirt, streaked with blood that wasn’t his. A black canvas book bag hung over one shoulder, swinging back and forth as he scrambled to his knees. He pressed his weight against the closed metal door to stifle the hollering and pandemonium rising from beneath it.Next to the steel hatch was a bucket, steaming with hot tar. The janitor had been using it to seal sections of loose shingle that had been leaking water into the school during every springtime rainstorm. A grubby tar mop leaned against the bucket. The boy shifted his heavy bag and scooped up the mop, wedging it between the handles of the hatch, locking it shut. Then he fled back across the flat roof toward the ghostly concrete statues lining the edge.The row of saints had stood watch over St. Michael’s for as long as anyone alive could remember. Thomas, the doubter; Joseph, the foster father; Anthony, finder of lost things; Jude, devotee to the hopelesss; Francis of Assisi, the lover of nature, who had a small concrete bird in his outstretched hand and a real drip of birdshit on his concrete head. At the center archway of the ledge, high above the school’s main entrance, stood an even larger statue of a warrior angel, St. Michael himself, wings spread and sword raised against the satanic serpent being squashed beneath his foot.The boy on the roof was named Colin Vickler. Not that it mattered. This was the end. This was good-bye. There was nowhere else to hide. He climbed up onto the short ledge, first steadying himself on St. Michael’s wing and then hugging its torso as he tried not to stare into the boneshattering drop below. Behind him, the steel hatch shook again — a rumble of thunder on a sunny, spring afternoon. He heard screams rise from the open classroom windows on the face of the school below. Even out here, on the edge, he was surrounded.He slumped against St. Michael, pressing his open mouth against the concrete figure’s arm to make himself stop crying, tasting the stone that had weathered away to dust. The statue lurched, as if withdrawing from him, and he fell back as pieces of the crumbling base tumbled over the ledge.Peering over the side, he saw a small group of classmates in gym clothes lingering on the school steps. The bits of stone lay scattered around their feet, and they stared up at him, shielding their eyes against the sun.One of them pointed and said, “Hey, I think that’s Clink.” Another shouted: “Jump, Clink!” and the rest of them laughed. A girl’s voice rose up in a singsong: “Cliiii-iiiink!”Vickler stood up straight, staring back at them.He rammed his shoulder against St. Michael. He beat the saint’s back.He grabbed the figure’s sword-wielding arm and rocked him back and forth, cracking the mortar. The statue lurched, and the rusted shaft of pipe protruding through the base cracked loose, splitting the serpent free from the avenging angel’s foot.St. Michael tipped off the ledge and spiraled to the sidewalk, diving toward its own shrinking shadow. It detonated against the concrete steps in a crackling explosion of dust and rocks as the gym students leaped for their lives, shrieking and scrambling over each other.For the first time that day — for the first time in a long while — Colin Vickler smiled.As those fresh screams rose up, he stared over the streets ahead, to the shopping center across the road, the receding clusters of homes, the green springtime slopes of the valley rising in the distance, the wide curve of the Allegheny River, an industrial artery slouching along the steel mills and gravelworks as it bent toward Pittsburgh. In the busy street beside the school, traffic crawled past the gas stations, fast- food joints, doctor’s offices, and other storefronts that lined the main strip. Up here, it all looked like some toy village in a model train layout. Tiny. Unreal. It seemed harmless to him now. And he felt so much bigger than it.The hatch shook again, but the mop handle held. Vickler watched it.Waited. Then nothing.He stumbled toward the next saint, dragging his bag behind him.The bag. That’s what got him here. Thick, full glass jars clattered inside the canvas. The strap cut into his hand, but he wouldn’t let it leave his side again, not that it mattered now. The other kids had discovered what he kept inside, though they wouldn’t understand. They couldn’t. Not even he did, really. A kid had the right to some secrets, if only the ones he could carry. But these had just been taken from him.He heard voices in the parking lot. More of the gym students were gathered below. His classmates. Former classmates now, he guessed.One kick. One kick was all it took, and that surprised Vickler. One kick sent St. Francis toppling end-over-end to the ground. But the statue didn’t deliver the satisfying explosion the angel had. Instead of the sidewalk, it landed with its touchdown- raised arms now stuck in a soft flower bed, its head buried: patron saint of ostriches. The kids standing around the garden looked at it with confusion.Vickler dragged his bag to St. Thomas. He rattled the saint’s head.Jars clinked madly in Vickler’s bag. Clink. That’s what they called him.Clink.Three kicks later, St. Thomas became an arrow to the earth. He hit the brick wall along the grand front steps and fractured in two at the waist.This time the kids ran.St. Barnabas. Decades of hard weather had already crumbled the base of this statue. Vickler heaved him over.St. Anthony— three shakes, two kicks— pray for us.Vickler had black dust on his hands now. The filth smeared his face as he wiped away tears.A man’s voice bellowed below the roof hatch. Vickler whirled. The contents of his knapsack clattered: clinkclink. The steel sheet rocked once, then twice, as someone rammed it from the other side. The mop handle bent like rubber, flexing, beginning to crack. The next hit splintered it.The tar-bristled mop end flopped away from the jagged stick.Vickler’s hands crawled into his book bag and came out with a sealed glass jar. Trapped inside the clear fluid was a small swollen creature: a baby shark, curled in death, its little black eyes staring at him. He inched closer to the hatch, his shadow touching its edge.The heavy steel door lifted. Below rose panicky shouts. A woman’s voice barked, “Open it already!”A little head, as white as a clover flower, rose up from the hole. Vickler arched his arm and hurled the jar into the face of Mr. Saducci, the school’s mumble-mouthed elderly janitor.Saducci squealed. One hand rose to shield his face too late. The other squeezed at the edge of the hatch for balance. The jar caromed off his brow and burst against the steel door, spraying the tumbling janitor’s face in formaldehyde.The old man’s right hand grasped blindly as his eyes sizzled, and the steel lid slammed down, trapping his fingers. The janitor’s wail echoed, seeming to plunge away in the distance as rounds of fresh screams erupted below.Vickler dropped to the roof and scrambled forward on his hands and knees, pulling his bag after him. He picked up the sharpened end of the splintered mop handle and held it like a spear.But the hatch didn’t move. The janitor’s trapped fingers didn’t either.Vickler’s guts roared. His greasy black hair dangled around his eyes. He shifted his pack. Clink. Clink. His eyes darted. “Go ahead!” he yelled, his voice breaking. “Open it up. Pull in your hand. I won’t hurt you!”A thread of blood began to run along the hatch’s crease.Vickler waited. He lifted the mop handle and timidly poked at the fingertips.They rolled off the ledge and bounced against the roof.see the first three parts here:onetwothree************************************************actual review of actual book here:

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    2019-02-27 01:44

    Find all of my reviews at:“No one is your friend at that school. Not a single person. Everyone you think you care about will disappoint you. They’ll all hurt you in the end.”Brutal Youth is the story of Noah Stein, Peter Davidek and Lorelei Paskal – three freshmen hoping to start St. Michael’s private school with a clean slate. What they find when they get there is a powder keg ready to blow. The three discover they will be subjected to a year-long hazing . . . With teachers who have zero desire to do anything except collect a paycheck making sure things don’t go too far . . . They also will come to learn they are part of a nearly bankrupt parish ran by the most corrupt of religious leaders . . . (Phrasing, Joel. Seriously.)And they definitely shouldn’t expect any help from their parents. They don’t exactly lead by example at home, so they’ve placed their kids in the hands of St. Michael’s in order to teach them all about the way of the Lord . . . The three will have to ride out the entire school year before the mistreated will finally get their revenge – in the form of a reading from an upper classman’s journal of secrets at the end of year picnic . . . But before then Noah, Peter, and Lorelei’s secrets will be revealed.Brutal Youth has an average rating of 4.00 from my Goodreads peeps. I am very willing to say I read this one wrong. In fact, I read it soooooo wrong that I’ve been debating on whether or not to rate it as low as 2 Stars. I’m going to go ahead and make it 3, though, because YA that pushes the envelope is most definitely something that falls in my wheelhouse even when I don’t really love the end result, and because I dug the message as a whole . . . “The things we surrender to when we’re young, we keep surrendering to the rest of our lives.”Unfortunately I had a bit of a hard time connecting to the story or the characters. The story seemed to really drag on and on for me. There were a lot of characters in this one and nearly all of them were fully fleshed out which got old. It also seemed extremely farfetched that an entire school’s population would consist of 100% assholes. On the other hand, it could have been as simple as wrong place/wrong time. Whatever the reason I kept putting this one down and then picking it back up, which resulted in the reading of three other books while attempting to finish this one.As I said, a lot of my friends have read Brutal Youth and nearly all of them gave it a high rating. Hayden is a friend who doesn’t always write a review, so when I see him taking time to say something I pay attention.

  • Melki
    2019-03-17 04:30

    "...this whole system has only one rule: You can't hurt anyone who can hurt you back."There's a bell tower vengeance scenario, a punctured cheek, severed digits, student/teacher hanky panky and a daring rescue...and that's just the prologue! BAM! Welcome to high school, kiddies!St. Michael's offers a well-rounded program of reading, writing and hazing. It's a vicious circle of torment as seniors who were made miserable when they were freshmen unleash a world of suffering on the newcomers to their school. Oblivious parents and teachers, more concerned about keeping their jobs than the students' welfare, stand back and let it all happen. "There are worse things in life than a little teasing," says the principal.Ah, tradition...This was quite the page-turner in a what-fresh-hell-is-this kind of way. I can't remember the last time I read a 400+ page book in less than 36 hours. This one will get your dander up, and every jab made by the lowly underclassmen against their bullies will make you want to stand up and cheer. "I'm not sure doing the right thing is the way to survive at this place."Believe's not.There's nothing like winning a hardback first edition to put a smile on my face.Thank you Goodreads and St. Martin's Press.

  • Becky
    2019-03-13 08:53

    I met Anthony Breznican while at BookCon last month. My friend and I had just left the Friday afternoon "This Is Where I Leave You" opening panel, which he moderated, had our $8 undrinkably strong Happy Hour drinks, won nothing in the raffle, and were kind of aimlessly trying to decide what to do when Stephen King's name caught my eye. (This happens kind of a lot. It's like I have Kingdar or something. Really.) I wandered over, saw that it was a blurb praising this book, made a mental note to check it out later. We then wandered on upstairs, and who should come up to us but the author of the very book I'd been checking out. We had a nice little conversation for a while, talking about books, including his, and Goodreads, and general small talk, and then we parted ways. The next morning, we beelined it to the Literary Fiction panel (which we learned was going to have available free copies) and snagged some, which he also signed for us. Awesome. My point of this story is twofold: 1) It's a disclaimer that I got this book for free from the author/BookCon; and 2) I was left with a very positive impression of Anthony Breznican as a person, and I REALLY, REALLY hoped that I'd feel the same about his book. And I do. But for very different reasons. Anthony was charming and funny and nice... and this book was anything but. That's not to say I didn't love it though. I did. Quite a lot. More than I expected, actually. I had hoped to like it, knowing that it was about Catholic School students and their 'hazing' rituals, but I admit to having a secret fear that it would not work for me in the same way that Lev Grossman's The Magicians didn't. (I hated every second I spent reading that book about teenaged dead fish Quentin Coldwater, and never finished it.) So I was thrilled when I cracked Brutal Youth open and it felt disturbingly real and engrossing and compelling. I was happy to reject that comparison and replace it with some others. I had some issues with it, but very few. For instance, in the prologue, the word "bag" is missing from one of the sentences. I noticed because that's the sentence's subject - but it's not a huge error, especially because the very next line describes the bag in question - so it's likely you wouldn't even notice if I didn't just point it out. Another issue I had was the use of flashback in the prologue. The book opens on a boy climbing to the roof of the school and hurling projectiles down on his classmates and the school faculty, and then shifts back to show us the events that day that led to him taking up that position. Clearly, I figured it out that we had a little Tarantino moment there, but I would have liked for it to be a little better delineated, like an additional line break to separate the section, or something. And then the same when coming back to prologue-present time. But these are very small nitpicks on my part, and honestly I kind of had to be nitpicky to find any criticism. For a debut novel, this one was excellent. Do I think everyone will love this book? Definitely not. It's not an easy read at all - even for me, and I love this kind of thing. But there were times when I had to set the book down and just breathe before I could go back to it. I'm not a huge status updater, but with this book I kinda had to restrain myself from updating every second page or so with a string of "Oh no!" "Oh shit!" "Oh FUCK!" "Oh my god!" updates because it had this level of realism that made me dread every page turn because it just kept... escalating. And then allegiances would shift, and that would cause a new round of dread and fear. No, this is not an easy read. It's a YA Coming-of-Age story... but do not mistake this for fluff. There are real issues and real problems and no real answers... just like real life. To be honest, this book kind of frightened me. My brother and his family live in Pittsburgh (where this book is set), and my sister-in-law is Catholic. I'm now terrified that my little nephew could go to a school like this and it kinda makes me want to buy him a bulletproof vest and a stun-gun. But then I take a step back and realize that I would be harming him more by over-protectiveness than helping him, and if I'm honest with myself, this kind of thing could happen at ANY school - it was just maybe a little easier at St. Mike's. Maybe I'll just have my brother enroll him in Tae Kwon Do or something. In several ways, this book kind of reminded me of J.K. Rowling's A Casual Vacancy, which I loved. There are a few reasons this comparison came to mind (one of which would be a spoiler for BOTH books, so I'll have to tiptoe around that one). First is the nature of the story. Neither book has a set "main" character. Every character, including the setting of each book, is as important as every other character, and by seeing all of it together, flowing from one person to the next, the reader gains a kind of omniscience that beautifully heightens the tension. It takes a lot of skill to keep your reader on their toes, especially when dealing with a full town (or in this case, school) full of characters. It requires excellent pacing, timing, and restraint. It also requires an impressive depth of insight. Both St. Mike's and Pagford are filled with complex, troubled, characters. In both books, the more you get to know the characters, the more you're unsure of them, but the more you're not sure you WANT to know them. There are no heroes here. Well, I take that back. There are unexpected heroes. Not the kind of hero that swoops in and saves the girl and apprehends the bad guy and triumphs over evil... but everyday nobodies who make a choice to try - even if everything turns out bad anyway. Life is not fair, and not everyone who deserves it gets their just desserts, and even sometimes when they do... it happens in a way that left me feeling conflicted about it. I loved the characters in this book. I loved the biting viciousness of the students and the staff at St. Mike's, and I appreciated the skill with which I was made to understand the different perspectives. Much like with George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, my sympathies shifted constantly. I never knew who I could trust, who I should WANT to trust. I felt like I was a student at the school, surrounded by hundreds but completely alone. It was a daunting feeling, actually. There were times, particularly during the marker scene, when I could literally HEAR the jeering and whispering and laughing surrounding this pocket of still silence and pain, as if I was there in the middle of it, experiencing it myself. And it was kind of amazing. In short - I loved this book. I dragged it around with me for the past two days, barely looking up from it unless I had to. I was engrossed and completely anxiety-ridden, and I couldn't get it out of my mind. I think this is one of those books that will haunt me. But I love that feeling. That's why I read.

  • Wendy
    2019-03-03 05:37

    Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican is a powerfully dark and mesmerizing novel. It transports the reader to our freshmen year in high school, a very frightening and uncertain time for most of us.St. Michael's Catholic High School is a mixture of delinquent students and misguided faculty. The novels main strength lies in its characters, in the way the author creates so many distinct voices and creates feelings of compassion and hate in each of them.Freshmen Davidek, Stein and Lorelei are forced to make decisions to stay alive in a school full of bullies, both students and teachers. Stephen King was dead on with his review of this novel "If you thought your school was hell, just wait until you read this book".A story of friendship and survival - a captivating read!

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
    2019-03-04 07:57

    www.melissa413readsalot.blogspot.comWell I'm just at a loss for words with this book and how do I write this review without a spoiler. SighYou already know this book is about bullying. I had no idea that it's not only the horrible kids in the Catholic school, but the nuns and priests are okay with it as long as it don't go TOO FAR! And if it does they will try to pay it off. REALLYSo you had several characters in the book, the main ones that I liked were Davidek and Stein. All of these kids parents think it's great to send their kids to this school, they think they will get better learning. Lord have mercy! The beginning of the book starts off when one of the kids just snaps from all of the years of bullying and he attacks the school and people so to speak. I'm not going to give away any more on that note. There is one teacher there that was okay, he tried to help as much as he could, but even he got shafted by the school in the end. Some of the freshmen can suck up to the seniors and get out of any bad hazing or being picked on all year. It's a cluster, I'm telling you. I really liked the book though because even though...once again.. it's a fiction novel I'm reading about bullying or mental issues, these things really go on out there in the world. There is one kid in the book that just breaks my heart more than the others. Now listen, these kids that are getting picked on, most of them get picked on at home too. They don't get a break. Anyway, the one kid, I was just so sorry for him when I heard his real story. All through the book he is the good guy that tries to help others and doesn't take anything from the jerks.... then you find stuff out. It's always stuff.. right? So, I just recommend this book to anyone that likes to read these kinds of novels. FYI: As I always say when I read books about bullies, I wish I could knock them into another galaxy.. I know.. I know.. that doesn't solve the problem, but it sure would feel good when they are beating down on a little kid... right? right? And some of those bully teachers, see ya, your going to the clink, once again, in my opinion :) Review will be up on my blog for the book/blog tour tentative on Oct 9, 2015. Giveaways etc will be going on.

  • Ryan Dejonghe
    2019-02-22 01:42

    The problem I have with BRUTAL YOUTH is its incongruous nature. At times, it reads like Young Adult, but its size and dark content pushes it into literary or adult fiction. Worse, those guest author blurbs. If you haven’t already, don’t read them! In the recent book THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY, they called these blurbs “the blood diamonds of the book industry.” Here, I can see why. Stephen King said this book had teachers that terrify; Gillian Flynn said it would be as “sharp as a well-carved stick”; James Dashner said my heart would ache at this “perfectly paced” novel; Jason Reitman said this would be “powerful and hilarious”. Then, underneath the title BRUTAL YOUTH is a picture of a school blazer aflame. My friends, the expectations are TOO HIGH!This happened last year when a huge chunk of money was paid to “the next J.K. Rowling” for a seven-book series beginning with THE BONE SEASON. (Hint: not on Rowling’s level.) In cases like this, you feel bad for the author. How can they stand up to this expectation? BRUTAL YOUTH is okay. It’ll actually make a terrific movie. The freshmen get hazed; many have heartbreaking backstories; the teachers don’t give a damn. If anything (and it is) the teachers are part of the problem. Things twist together, the youngsters crack, and it all ties together. It works.Besides the unrealistic set-up, the main issue I have here is the pacing. When I see fire on the cover and the word “brutal”, I expect high-impact pacing, but what I got was meandering. I could have put this book down and moved onto something else without needing to go back. Sure, each section ends with a bit of a drop and hook, but the middle parts wondered around.The solution: tighten it up and drop all the celebrity author endorsements. This isn’t as sharp as Flynn’s works, nor should she say it is. King has done much, much more terrifying stuff than this: no nightmares here. Let’s take this book at its own merit and enjoy it for what it is. Oh, and I can’t wait to see the movie.Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Thomas Dunne Books for providing me with an electronic review copy of this book.

  • Taylor Knight
    2019-03-05 08:40

    3.5 starsI finished this book 7 days ago and I still have no idea what I think about this book. On one hand, these characters are so confusing and unlikable but they're so complex, original, and interesting. I hated them but I also had so many feelings of sympathy.The plot was so strange but I was weirdly hooked. A part of me wanted to quit reading but I also couldn't put it down. The writing is so amazing. I can't compare it to anything because it's so original.This book had blown my mind. I don't know what to think or feel and I love how Brutal Youth has completely stumped me. Even though I finished this book a week ago, it's still stuck in my head. If you're looking for a book that's completely original and refreshing, Brutal Youth is a perfect fit.

  • Maciek
    2019-02-23 06:47

    Brutal Youth delivers exactly what it promises with its title and in spades, but little beyond it. Set in a catholic high school which is literally crumbling to pieces, it covers the freshmen year of three different new students and all the hazing that the seniors can throw at them. And at a institution where the faculty not turns a blind eye to bullying but actively encourages it as "team-building", this means a lot of deviously creative cruelty.Perhaps I read this book too soon after the excellent The Chocolate War .Both books share remarkable similarities - both of them are set in catholic schools where the faculty is corrupt and catholic only in name, both focus on a group of outsiders who are trying to survive in a violent world populated by cruel and sadistic characters, where bullying is an adolescent rite of passage. But while The Chocolate War is populated with interesting characters who each play a role in representing the subjects it aims to illustrate, Brutal Youth puts its characters as victims of this diverse bullying over and over, but ultimately doesn't do much except it. The freshmen experience heartbreak and betrayal, but these emotions are drowned in the wave after wave of brutality for the sake of brutality. There doesn't seem to be any specific plot to the book - it reads more like a series of vignettes from the characters' freshman year. The main driving event from The Chocolate War - Jerry's refusal to participate in the sale of chocolate cookies - shows how a simple, innocent event can become something completely different, escalate and have consequences beyond one's imagination; the climatic event towards which Brutal Youth moves slowly involves a freshman being forced to read a notebook full of secrets about other students at a school picnic. I couldn't buy into this idea - other characters spend a significant amount of time trying to stop it from happening, but didn't it occur to anyone that it actually might be easier to stop the freshman after he started reading?This isn't necessarily a terrible book - though I felt that its pace waned significantly during its 400 pages - but it's impossible to not compare it to The Chocolate War, and it simply pales in comparison. Perhaps its biggest disadvantage is that it's not as insightful as its predecessor, and fails to make an impact which would make it memorable - the ending of The Chocolate War is heartbreaking but necessary; if it was anything else the book would betray itself. In comparison, Brutal Youth simply ends on a note of complete insignificance of the whole experience - a bit like Porky Pig's that's all, folks!. My experience with Brutal Youth is a classic case of unmet expectations - I'd have to recommend The Chocolate War over it.

  • Alissa Patrick
    2019-03-15 04:30

    What a powerful story.I've read many novels about schools and bullying, but this one just killed me. I had to stop reading it several times because I was getting too emotional, but then I knew I had to pick it back up again to find out what happens. To find out if these kids would be okay, and if the school administrators would do anything to stop it. A Must Read.

  • Randee
    2019-03-01 05:36

    Are we all thinly disguised monsters, especially and most brutally when we are young and in school? I'm not going to say I didn't enjoy this. I did. But, the relentless bullying and dark, dark, dark cruelty of these children did wear me down. To anyone who has ever been victimized at any age, I want to shriek, "Stand up for yourself. Flatten your oppressor with a cutting tongue if not a fist when necessary. Don't allow anyone to attack you without defending yourself with defensive aggression." Perhaps it was the way I was raised. I clearly remember my father telling me that since he could not live my life and suffer my pain, it was up to me to solve my problems. The meek shall not inherit the earth. Stand up and fight.

  • Nemo
    2019-02-28 04:42

    For a full and edited review go toBlame it on the Books 5 Brutally Emotional Stars Brutal Youth was full of extraordinary characters with stories I’ll never forget. We had 6 main characters, 3 were adults (Sister Maria, Father Mercedes, and Mr.Zimmer) and 3 students (Stein, Davidek, and Loreli)St.Mike’s was once a normal catholic school that upheld all the moral values stated in the bible, but all that changed as life got difficult for the seniors, they took it out on the freshmens. “Those who felt the most pain had the most to dump on others.”It turned into a bullying school where the younger freshman were tortured and constantly harassed. It got so bad that a kid began to attack teachers and students and then tried to kill himself (one of the most gory beginnings to a book I have ever read).“Excuses. Maybe it’s the way you talk, or the color of your skin, or the color of your underwear, or whether you’ve got a clip-on around your neck. Assholes will find a reason to **** with you.”Visiting students Stein and Davidek helped save a student and to avoid getting sued the school provided them a tuition which was the worst that could happen to them. From there things began to get insanely complicated. In a true high school fashion there were MANY characters, there were a few times I had to go back and remind myself who we were talking about. One of my favorite things was how they actually got the difference between Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon, which like Stein is something I’ve had to constantly remind my teachers about. That earned itself its own star! Now as someone who has been bullied (never to this extent) this story hit close to home. We got too see all sides of the story, not just the victim but the bully. Stein and Davidek were some of the greatest characters I’ve ever read. Steins is a rebel punk with a secret, there are many times when we think we know his story and it was very joker-esqueAs for Davidek, he’s probably the swan of this whole book. He starts out as a regular nice guy just trying to get by, but of course getting by wasn’t going to be enough. Not at a school like St.Mikes.At first Loreli pissed me off, and I thought I would eventually like her but it never happened. She has an awful middle school life, full of bullying and broken friendships. She thinks she’s getting out when she goes to St.Mikes but she was wrong. Very wrong. From her first moment in St.Mike she makes bad choices, and she just keeps making them. There’s also a huge mystery aspect to this book. Hannah Kraut, a girl who was being heavily bullied by not just the seniors but every other grade too and she decided to write down everyone’s secrets. Now being a senior herself and leaving she’s decided at the hazing picnic to read everyone’s secrets out loud. The thing is there’s the whole is it a rumor? Is it real? Will she read? It was so intense I stayed up all night just to figure out what happened!I was not a huge fan of the ending because I like happy endings were everyone has smiles and there are rainbows but this book did not end like that. Some of our characters got what they had coming, others were finally happy, but for the most part our characters simply survived. But as far as endings go, it did make cry and that’s usually a good sign. Overall it’s an emotional and deep book. Its highly unpredictable and it’s the kind of book that stays with you forever.

  • adam (booksss.0k)
    2019-03-07 06:41

    “Things had changed. A boy learns a lot in his first year of high school. One was a simple lesson that a lot of people figure out around his age: Surprise, surprise—the good guys don’t always win. Sometimes, they’re lucky if they just get to keep on being good guys.” - Anthony BreznicanLet me just start off this review by stating that this is one of the best debut novels that I have ever read. Anthony draws you in with his writing and it won't let you go. I felt so absorbed with all the characters. Yes, all of the characters have a flaw, but isn't that true of everyone? No matter how good you are, there is ultimately some evil within you. Nightmares are what stem from people seeing the evil within themselves. We are disgusted by what we try not to see, but you can't hide from it forever.“Maybe you can’t blame people for the pain that makes them who they are. Maybe that was just one more bullet you had to step in front of for someone you were supposed to love—even if you didn’t want to. Even if it hurt. Maybe that was love.” - Anthony BreznicanThis book is great with detailing relationships between different types of characters, child-and-parent, student-and-teacher, peer-to-peer, worker-to-boss, ect. It is just such an incredibly moving novel that has so many breathtaking quotes to last a lifetime. This book had me highlighting and sharing sections of the text like no novel before. I could relate to so much to the content in this novel (which is part of the reason I liked it so much). Whether you were the outcast, the bully, or bystander watching something happen, then you can have some kind of emotional connection to this novel. There is no way that this isn't true for everyone who reads it. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that this book deeply affected, moved, and changed my view of people. “Those who grow up being told they’re worthless start to believe it. When someone thinks they don’t deserve happiness, it becomes easier to sabotage it than to live with it. They never admit this, especially to themselves. But they always shoot the albatross.” - Anthony BreznicanPeople can be so terrible to others and this novel just gets that point across so well. Stein, Davidek, and Lorelei's story just made me melt from the inside out. It made me feel like I was a part of this godforsaken school, but in the best way possible. Isn't that what a book is supposed to do? Isn't it supposed to make you feel something and get you completely engrossed? This did that for me. I am so so so so glad that I had the pleasure to engross myself in this life altering story. This was my final and favorite book that I read this year. Hopefully in the coming years Anthony will release more novels, I will defiantly be looking forward to the day his follow-up is released because I don't even care what it is about, I will read it. If you haven't read this novel yet, then ummmmm do it now.“She’s the devil,” he grumbled softly. “Yeah…,” Davidek said, wiping his mouth as his eyes still followed her. “But the devil sure tempts.” - Anthony Breznican

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-09 02:43

    dannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng. so glad that it is over. but i liked it. every single sentence.more later.

  • Lisbeth Avery {Domus Libri}
    2019-03-23 02:52

    Brutal Youth tells the inspiring story of three teenagers, each with their own troubles. While, technically, Brutal Youth was written as an anti-bullying book, it doesn't feel like the average one. Most of the books I've read have extremely heavy messages that bog down the actual story and taint the overall experience. Often the characters are weak and flimsy as well. At the end of the day, the message fails to make a lasting impact with the reader.However, Brutal Youth doesn't seem to want to go with the flow and instead tells one of the most brutal and harsh stories I've ever read with characters abounding with personality and a story that really resonates with the reader. It's one of those once in a blue moon reads that I'll treasure for a long, long time.The three main characters -Peter Davidek, Noah Stein, and Lorelei Paskal - were all incredibly realistic and well developed. I couldn't really call any of them likable in the traditional sense, but I enjoyed seeing the story through their eyes. Their individual strengths and weaknesses added yet another layer to the book.Lorelei was my favourite character in the book, and also one of the most complex characters I've ever read about. Nothing is ever simple with Lorelei. She's selfish and self-centered and an all around awful person. But she's also incredibly pitiful and weak. She is bullied mercilessly by her peers, yet she also does a lot of the bullying herself.One of the shining aspects of the book was how Breznican addressed the theme of bullying. There's nothing black and white in Brutal Youth. It's all in shades of grey. Even the bullies are bullied.The main characters aren't completely innocent, like you'd expect from your average book. They're sympathetic while still being at times awful people. It's really amazing what having realistic, multifaceted characters can do to a story. I haven't stopped thinking about this book since I put it down almost a month ago.Overall, Brutal Youth is one of the best books I have ever read. It's gorgeously written and incredibly heartfelt. I cannot wait to read any other works by this author. I loved it and I recommend Brutal Youth to anyone looking for a book that is unlike any you've read before.

  • Caroline Gurgel
    2019-03-25 07:37

    Que leitura incrível!! Esse livro foi uma surpresa muito agradável, uma história bem melhor do que imaginei e diferente de tudo que já li. Não é o tipo de livro que eu escolheria na prateleira de uma livraria e talvez nem me interessaria se me contassem a história. Ainda bem que o ganhei e tive o prazer de lê-lo!!Bullying?! Imaginei uma história batida, previsível e sem graça, daquelas que o garoto popular xinga e humilha o garoto sem jeito, o gordo, o tímido, o nerd, o feio, até que um dia precisa de sua ajuda, percebe que agia errado, se desculpa e muda da água para o vinho. Já li muitas histórias assim e uma hora elas cansam. Juventude Brutal não é nada disso. É cruel, é real! É viciante!O romance de estreia do americano Anthony Breznican nos leva, aos anos 90, à St. Michael, uma escola particular católica conhecida pelos trotes que os veteranos fazem com os calouros. É lá que nos deparamos com o carismático Davidek, que logo faz amizade com Stein, um garoto cheio de enigmáticas cicatrizes no rosto, e com Lorelei, uma menina linda, mas nada popular, que está disposta a mudar essa situação. São os três personagens principais, todos calouros e meio solitários, apesar de suas qualidades, que irão passar por poucas e boas – ou muitas e ruins! – durante todo o primeiro ano do colegial.Breznican abre o livro com um prólogo maravilhoso, de tirar o fôlego e aplaudir de pé. Uma das melhores introduções que já li, que trouxe com ela grandes expectativas e algumas teorias. Comparado ao prólogo, os primeiros capítulos são um tanto confusos e me entediaram um pouco. Porém, quando nos habituamos à escrita do autor e entendemos melhor a história que ele quer contar, é impossível largar o livro. Fazia tempo que eu não me deparava com uma leitura tão viciante!A história é contada em 3ª pessoa e alterna o foco entre os personagens, o que nos aproxima bastante deles e nos permite enxergar tudo por diversos ângulos. A escrita é maravilhosa, feita com um esmero perceptível e um rico vocabulário. A estrutura da narrativa é muito boa, com uma montagem espetacular da personalidade daqueles jovens. Pouco a pouco, serpenteando entre as páginas, vamos descobrindo seus segredos e mistérios, vamos encaixando as peças que moldam suas atitudes e as compreendendo melhor.Quando o bullying começa passei a me perguntar se tudo aquilo era meio caricatural, tamanha a crueldade. Parece exagerado, mas parei para pensar em casos reais que são noticiados comumente nos jornais e percebi que era, sim, um retrato de uma escola doente, com alunos problemáticos. Era a consequência de pais omissos e professores sem vocação.Os personagens, mesmo os secundários, são muito bem construídos. Por trás de cada um deles há um porquê, há um motivo para cada atitude, por mais injustificável que seja. De alguns personagens senti raiva, de outros, pena. As histórias de suas vidas são de partir o coração e nos deixa meio melancólicos, como se sentíssemos todo aquele sofrimento. São personagens atemporais, adolescentes carentes de atenção, e, como tais, facilmente influenciáveis.Preciso ainda dar destaque a Hanna, uma personagem espetacular. Talvez a melhor de todo o livro. Não quero dar spoilers, mas fiquei com uma dor no peito por ela muitas vezes. Aliás, é assim que nos sentimos em muitos, muitos trechos.E os adultos? O que falar dos adultos desse livro? Todos culpados, todos negligentes! Famílias completamente desestruturadas, pais e professores que preferem se acomodar, que preferem não enxergar a tragédia diante de seus olhos. São injustos, até desumanos, e não param para ouvir o que os adolescentes tem a dizer.Breznican conseguiu reunir em um só livro histórias terríveis de bullying e trote, histórias de amizade verdadeira, de traição, de mágoa, de segredos e de confiança. Conseguiu fazer uma crítica aos pais ausentes e aos educadores despreparados. Falou ainda em chantagem e seu poder de destruição.Jovens precisam de bons exemplos, sem isso tudo desanda com facilidade. Eis a mensagem principal dessa história intensa, dura, real e triste.Como não recomendar um livro que você não conseguia parar de ler? Fiquei sempre curiosa, querendo saber o que aconteceria, querendo entrar naquelas páginas e dar uns bons gritos e alguns conselhos. Esperava um final diferente, mais romanceado, mas, pensando bem, ele não poderia ter sido mais genuíno, mais real. Mesmo com toda dureza, é uma leitura viciante. Já falei isso, não?! :))❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ♡★ ★ ★ ★ ★"Os mocinhos nem sempre vencem no final. Às vezes, eles têm sorte de simplesmente continuarem sendo caras legais."

  • Ashley
    2019-03-22 07:36

    After reading the prologue of this book, I was 100% sure I was going to love it. That is not exactly what ended up happening.Let me tell you what happens in the prologue, as a sort of illustration: The book opens with this kid on the roof. He’s pretty much an outcast, and he’s been chased up there by his schoolmates. He’s wearing a uniform, so this is a private school, and there are statues of Saints decorating the roof, so it’s Catholic. This kid is a junior, but he’s desperate. The other kids call him Clink, because he’s always carrying around a gym bag full of items that go ‘clink’. He’s currently on the roof because the other kids have just discovered what’s in the bag, and that’s animal specimens in jars. They turn on him pretty quickly, but he fights back, because he’s had it. One kid ends up with a pen stuck through his cheek, one teacher ends up with a concussion, and a janitor who follows him up to the roof gets his fingers lopped off by the closing hatch to the roof. At this point, Clink thinks his life is over. And it was already pretty intolerable before.Because really what’s happened here is that Clink goes to a school that actively encourages hazing as part of its culture, which sounds all fun and games and yay tradition! in theory, but in practice, it mostly results in everyone taking out their misery on everyone else, attempting to feel less awful about their own shitty lives. And Clink, poor Clink, he was at the bottom of the chain even before he started carrying around his bag of dead specimens. So why does he carry them around? Well, it’s complicated, but it’s also kind of sweet. Clink has issues at home, and one day he found that the school basement had all these specimens, and it turned his stomach. So he’s been taking them home and burying them in the woods behind his house.But anyway, now he’s on the roof and people are pounding on the door and he’s trapped. And a crowd is gathering on the lawn in front of the school. And he snaps. He starts hurling his specimen jars at the onlookers, and when he runs out of those, he pushes the saint statues off, one by one. Students are hurt. Chaos ensues. The protagonist of the novel (Davidek) also happens to be down below, because he’d been taking a tour of the school in preparation for his attending it as a freshman the next year. He and another 8th grader (Noah Stein) bond over saving a student’s life. Clink is finally brought down off the roof. And that’s the first thirty pages of the book.It picks up six months later, and unfortunately, never quite hits the same highs again.The rest of the novel takes place over the course of an entire school year as Davidek, Stein and a chorus of other characters navigate the corrupt and brutal hallways of St. Michael’s Preparatory in Pittsburgh. Right away I was captivated by Breznican’s voice as an author. It was clear and precise, brutally honest yet funny. And it presented a vision of high school that is unlike any I’ve read before. Davidek’s story isn’t so much a coming of age story as it is a spiral down into the realization that life sucks and people suck and you have to accept it or be miserable. But you know, in a funny, bleakly amusing way.I think for the most part the book succeeded, and the last couple of pages were really affecting. But that prologue really set my expectations for a pretty intense climax that never materializes. I talked in my review of Abhorsen about how that series was just one large snowball, picking up intensity and speed as it went. This book is the opposite. It starts out big and monstrous and speeding towards your face with incredible sass and velocity. And then, as the characters lose their innocence, the snowball gradually melts away, and what you’re left with is adulthood. And it sucks.“He’d always assumed that as you got older, you became better, that you learned how to be brave, or wise, or do what was best for other people. Now he believed the opposite was true.”This book was definitely an interesting and entertaining reading experience, and I will probably be picking up any further books by Breznican. I’d even recommend this to anyone interested in coming of age stories. I just would warn them in advance not to let the prologue set their expectations for the rest of the book, which is more of a character study than anything.[3.5 stars]

  • Anna Janelle
    2019-02-23 05:50

    Yinz like Pittsburgh, n'at? Oh my gosh! Geez louise. I do. I live here, and I LOVE it. How's abaht this book is in SET IN PITTSBURGH - and I didn't even know it until I started reading?! Tons of local references - complete with shout outs to Eat 'n Park and Edgar Snyder commercials. Plus, it was good. Actually, GREAT. I loved this book almost as much as I love Pittsburgh, and, that, my friends, is saying something. At the root of this book is an ugly story about the cruelties of high-school hazing and the ineffectiveness of adults (parents and authority figures) in recognizing, addressing and preventing bullying. This book completely coincided with my own experiences with the inexplicable malice of children towards one another. My first real look at it was in the first week of junior high when boys in my music class turned upon another student for having dirty, old shoes. Now, clearly, this boy was not from the most economically prosperous families; but, the next day, he came to class in new, white tennis shoes. Did this spare him the indignity of being humiliated once again – no matter the cost or inconvenience to his family who bought him the shoes? Fuck no. They made fun of him for having cheap K-Mart shoes, the wrong type to escape their ridicule. It was then that I realized that kids are jerks. Real raging assholes with a pack mentality, willing to turn on each other, preying on the weak to avoid their own detection and criticism. This book is about how children are willing to hurt one another in the name of having a “good” time. It is about how adults are able to turn a blind eye to traumatic events in the name of tradition and toughening up their youth. It’s about how growing up is hard enough without the pressure and anxiety of surviving in the social jungle that is high school. It’s about the impact of hazing on the fragile juvenile psyche. And it’s beautiful and real and … did I mention it is set in Pittsburgh?Thanks NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I’m a Catholic school girl from way back when, and this read rang true to my heart. I’ll be promptly recommending it to my local reading friends.

  • Andrew Campbell
    2019-02-28 06:45

    Ugh. There are too many good books to waste time with tripe like this.Lather, rinse, repeat. A lot of hand-wringing over garden-variety hazing. Yep, I'll say it: none of the treatment the freshmen suffer is particularly imaginative or offensive. There's just a lot of it.And that's the only note Mr. Breznican plays: abuse at the hands of betters. I didn't encounter a moment of levity or a glimpse of respite, didn't find present any indication of the ebbing innocence that is the indulgence- if only fleeting -of teenage children of every class and station. Brutal Youth is as subtle and insightful as a PSA about the evils of bullying.That might have been fun if the taunting was clever or if the perspective was shrewd and caustic, but nope. What's worse, the dialogue often *tries* to be funny but comes across not even like the ineffectual ejaculations of a 14-year-old but as the self-satisfied attempts of a middle-aged novelist who has forgotten how children actually speak and possibly his sense of humor as well.Beware the entertainment writer whose first novel comes blurbed by his colleagues.

  • Debra
    2019-03-18 01:39

    Stephen King Recommended.“If you thought high school was hell, has Anthony Breznican got a story for you. Every bully who stalked you, every sadistic teacher who ever terrified you, every stupid prank, every hopeless crush and false friend: they’re all here, along with a few kids who hang together and try to do the right thing in a brutal environment. By turns funny and terrifying, BRUTAL YOUTH is an unputdownable tour-de-force, a REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE for the 21st century.” ~ Stephen King9/16/14 I found this to be a very engrossing, well-written book with excellent characters you really care about. Yes, it was intense at times. I got very mad at the teachers for looking the other way and placing blame where it didn't belong, and the corrupt priest. My heart ached for Stein, and it's hard to figure out why Lorelei betrayed him. I wish Hannah HAD had something in her notebook to blast every kid there, but what she actually did was ingenious. Let's hope in college she can leave all those tortuous years behind. Let's hope this for all the good kids.

  • Larry H
    2019-03-12 01:57

    Some say that the high school years are the best years of your life. Those who say that never attended St. Michael's school. Anthony Breznican's novel, Brutal Youth, essentially chronicles one year—1991—at this Catholic high school, which would make the principal from Lean On Me, the teacher from Dangerous Minds, and the students from Heathers or Mean Girls transfer as quickly as possible.Peter Davidek has always lived in the shadow of his older brother, Charlie, which isn't a good thing, since Charlie is now persona non grata in their family. But since Charlie went to St. Michael's, their mother wants Peter to attend school there as well. But orientation day for visiting 8th graders is somewhat eventful, when a troubled student snaps, unleashing an attack on fellow students and teachers alike. It falls on Peter and another prospective student, Noah Stein, to rescue a student injured in the attack, even though it means disobeying—and making an enemy of—the school's guidance counselor.When Peter and Noah begin their freshman year, they quickly realize this isn't just another school. On top of the fact that the school itself is falling apart, and the chapel has taken over the school's gymnasium since the original chapel burnt to the ground, freshmen are like raw meat to the older students. It's not just innocent pranks or teasing—it's all-out abuse, physical and emotional, every day. And the teachers are just as bad as the kids. It's all justified, you see, because when the upperclassmen were freshmen, they were abused, so it's kind of like the circle of life, you know?Noah, who has been thrown out of schools before, is a take-no-prisoners kind of person, one who doesn't let anyone bother him, although that bravado hides some real emotional vulnerability. He and Peter become an unlikely team against their tormentors, along with fellow student Lorelei Paskal, who charms them both but isn't as successful making friends with her classmates. But as the school year progresses, their relationships with each other and their other classmates are tested by violence, misunderstandings, secrets, and a faculty more than willing to turn their backs on what is happening in the school."Everybody's pissed off and wants to f--king hit somebody, but this whole system has only one rule: You can't hurt anyone who can hurt you back."This is a brutal book, one that truly lives up to its title. I have never seen students, teachers, and parents so relentlessly cruel, petty, and awful, even though Breznican gives you some idea how they got that way. While I loved Peter and Noah's characters, I just found every other character in the book so utterly unappealing and unsympathetic. I had a hard time believing that any school, any administration could be so bad, but then I remembered that the book is set in 1991, a time before Columbine and other incidents of school violence.I can't say that I enjoyed this book, perhaps because in a tremendously mild way it reminded me of some of my own issues with high school. I definitely wanted to see where Breznican would take the plot, to see if he could continue escalating the cruelty and all-around awfulness of his characters. But as much as this book troubled me and made me angry, I also would love to know what happened next, so I guess the characters stuck with me.I've seen so many glowing reviews of this book, so if my description intrigues you, I'd encourage you to read it. I guess in the end, I'm struck by this quote from the book:"The things we surrender to when we're young, we keep surrendering to the rest of our lives."

  • Denise
    2019-02-24 04:32

    "Catholic school - as vicious as Roman Rule." (Death Cab for Cutie)I really liked this book though it was very disturbing and dark. As a teacher, librarian and nurse at a Catholic high school, I have heard that phrase a million times since the song with those lyrics came out ~2005. There seems to be no end to the inventive ways that students find to torment each other. Though this book was set in the 1990s, many of the behaviors and problems described exist in school settings today. Students in high school are faced with academic pressure, shifting loyalties, betrayal, bullying, and other issues that so make these NOT the best days of their lives. The students in BRUTAL YOUTH come from different backgrounds and home situations that make their ability to succeed more difficult as kids compete with each other to stand out and be different while still wanting to belong to at least one group or clique. The blind eye or ignorance of what was really happening at St. Michael the Archangel was sort of unbelievable but definitely adults don't always get the real picture because students don't often confide the complete truth. A critical conversation or intervention by an observant teacher, mentor, coach or staff might have helped immensely -- I thought most of those employees should have been fired! I originally thought this was a YA novel but I can see that it is not as I don't feel that most high school students would read between the lines for the insight that is there in the stories of the teens at SMTA school. The lack of resolution and the missing happy endings is difficult to accept because the reader, given the benefit of knowing the real inner workings of each character's mind, has definite thoughts and feelings as to how things should end. Consequences. Punishment? The level of abuse meted out to students under the watchful eyes of equally disturbed adults was horrific. I will be thinking about this book for a long time and I hope it keeps me mindful of the myriad ways in which I personally can be empathetic and helpful to the kids I interact with each day. Observant and open. Watchful and ready to step in to prevent the bullying or the "jokes" made at another's expense. Are students more vulnerable now given the impact of social media? I think everyone is potentially a target and that learning to handle it is one of the main learning experiences of the high school years, but no student should be left unprotected by the adults given the charge to keep them safe from mental and physical harm. The adults described in the book were horrible stereotypes of all the myths about Catholic school, but demonstrate how toxic an environment can be if allowed to go unchecked. I don't care what people say, any kind of "hazing" by upper classmen is inappropriate in a school community. Adults can and should model behavior that encourages students to be kind to one another and they should be vigilant to weed out and help break the cycle of "do unto others" when that means being cruel. I'm sure I will be thinking about this novel for a long time and would love to discuss it with others. It was disturbing but pertinent. I'd recommend it. 4.5 stars Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the e-book copy to review.

  • Nick Ivey
    2019-02-25 06:36

    I have been an an avid reader for years and this book is one of those rare pieces, in this age of trilogies, that you actually want for a sequel when you get to the end of the story. Mr. Breznican does a wonderful job of building characters that you cheer for one second and against the next. This being his first outing he does a great job weaving a storyteller like feel to this novel, you almost feel as your reading it that your sitting with a friend or family member who is recalling a set of memories. It has that sense of comfort to it, which is not to say it is a comfortable book to read, I often thought of it as a Greek tragedy with moments of farce in it, but honestly that doesn't even accurately describe it.The story takes place in Saint Micheal's a run down high school that the is so well detailed it actually seems to be a character in and of itself, you quickly learn this is not your average Catholic school, it is a nasty, cliquish, place where everyone is out for themselves and will stab you in the back in a second just to make themselves feel better for a second..then there are the students who are even worse. That is not to say there are not likeable characters here, because there are. I felt an odd sense going through the book because I wanted so much for Stein, Davidek, Lorelei, Hannah or any one of the many students to prove themselves to be a whole person but they could not. They didn't have it in them, they all shine in their own ways and at separate times I found myself my rooting for and against almost all of them. That is the beauty of what Mr. Breznican created here, the people are real. They are mean, vicious, loving, they have a background, they make you care and in the end they make you want to read more from them. The few flaws in the book are negligible, a couple of the big secrets seemed to me to a little obvious but he made up for that by even making one of those reveals spin a different direction than you think it will. Again truly I for one hope he does a sequel because I really want to see what happens when Davidek after all of the fall out from the end of the book.

  • Sandie
    2019-03-16 00:40

    This powerful, mesmerizing novel transports the reader to that time in all our lives that most of us remember as our most unsettling and frightening experience - our freshmen year in high school. With BRUTAL YOUTH Anthony Breznican sweeps us back to those turbulent days of uncertainty and insecurity when we treaded the halls with trepidation and didn't know who to count as friends and who as foes. At St. Michael the Archangel high school the pastor, principle, guidance counselor and teachers, like the senior students, fall into both categories. On the home front parents are either self-absorbed or oblivious to things going on in their children's lives and it becomes apparent that the students are not the only ones with personal agendas and secrets they prefer remain unexposed.Peter Davidek and Noah Stein are the main protagonists facing the everyday reality of life at St. Michaels but their stories are only the tip of this iceberg. This is a book chock full of characters whose personal weaknesses and short-comings are told in interwoven stories that vibrantly illustrate coming of age lessons that resonate in our memories. As one character observes, "the things we surrender to when we're young, we keep surrendering to for the rest of our lives" and another muses "mobs have never been especially good at considering unintended consequences". From the opening chapter the reader is hooked and divulging too many details about this tale of hope, love and survival could potentially ruin the experience for other readers.It's not that this subject of teen-age honor, integrity and survival hasn't been addressed before. While this incarnation is an amalgamation of what has gone before ( think Rebel Without a Cause and Mean Girls join The Breakfast Club on the Mean Streets while The Lords of Discipline look on) it remains an amazingly compulsive read. Anthony Breznican has done an eloquent and artful job of injecting new life into this previously well trodden territory.

  • Shannon
    2019-03-04 05:39

    On the day students and staff at St. Michael’s High School should be impressing the visiting prospective students, Colin “Clink” Vickler sets off a chain of events as he begins hauling glasses of preserved animals off the building’s roof. Over the course of the next year, a circle of freshman who witnessed Clink’s violent outcry attempt to navigate the brutal waters of St. Michael’s and work together to break down its perpetually ignored hazing system.Breznican populates St. Michael’s with wonderfully flawed characters full of layers that take the course of the story to be revealed. But as the novel expands from the brilliance of its opening sequence, the sheer number of personalities makes it difficult to stay invested in one before abruptly shifting to another. Despite my interest in Brutal Youth‘s plot, I regularly found myself wishing I could combine the close lens of its first pages with the great character development demonstrated throughout.Still, Breznican is extremely successful in crafting a story that will spark discussion and open dialogue, which would make it a great pick for book clubs. There’s much to turn over regarding the prevalence of bullying, it’s impact, and how school culture itself has changed since the novel’s early 90’s setting. In Brutal Youth, Anthony Breznican dives deep into the darkest corners of high school life and reappears with an intriguing tale well worth checking out.Originally posted at

  • hayden
    2019-03-03 01:31

    From the moment I got a peek at the cover of Brutal Youth, I knew I had to read it. After reading the novel, I must commend the designers. The bold cover image is a perfect fit for the novel's contents -- a harrowing, no-holds-barred dissection of a train wreck of a Catholic school, of its profligately-swearing students, equally terrifying teachers, and the secrets it contains within its walls.Some things in life are so gruesome, so disgusting, that you want to turn away, but you are held in place by the sick part of you that can't help but stare. St. Michael's is exactly this: a concoction of delinquent students and misguided faculty with even worse intentions. And I couldn't stop reading once I was hooked. Brutal Youth's main strength lies in its characters, in the way Breznican creates so many distinct voices and creates feelings of sympathy and hate in each of them. Throughout, I found my loyalties switching, from the tragically misled sad-girl to the revenge-plotting, enigmatic villain, and back again. The plot instantly engages, throwing us right into the action of the horror-filled first day of Davidek's freshman year. Say good-bye to your evening plans, because once you begin Brutal Youth, you won't want to stop until you've reached its dreaded climax and final pages.