Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
June 2010 by HarperTeen
Paperback, 336 Pages
Brewster, known as Bruiser at school, has the reputation of "outsider". Voted most likely to receive the death penalty, he remains a loner and remains a mystery to most everyone he meets. That is until Bronte meets him, she immediately thinks Bruiser is a boy she can save....a boy she wants date and get to know......a boy that takes all the pain away. Little does she know what door is about to be open once Bruiser's heart is open to hers........
Bruiser was born with a unique gift…one that ultimately has the power to do good but can curse all at the same time. What would you do if someone you loved or someone you knew could take away all your pain? Not only physically but emotionally as well. Could you dump that on someone, could you release all that hurt and put that on another person, a person who would bare physical scars on their body for your pain and suffering? Or would it be more like a curse for you...never to feel your own pain, or grow from a mistake, or feel pain from an injury? Bruiser in most cases has no control over stealing these things from the people he cares about. His body just takes them without question, even the stuff he doesn't want. Being an outsider and a loner at school was really the only option when protecting himself and his little brother.
I guess you could compare Bruiser to The Green Mile's John Coffey, both big guys with an odd ability. While John heals willingly, Bruiser has no choice, unless he learns to detach himself from the living. What kind of life would that be though, having no friends, no family, not one person to share life with? Living with his twisted and sick uncle put Bruiser in a horrendous environment, one that made him experience weird abuse that for the reader is pretty heartbreaking. The violence in the book from the uncle is pretty terrible, but Shusterman did a great job showing why the uncle was abusive and what his motivations were. He was selfish to the core, but no more selfish than any other character once they learned of Bruisers power. The difference between the characters though was how the story made you see selfishness mixed with real love and selfishness intended for evil. When Bronte and Bruiser begin dating its drastic for him, because it changes all the dynamics in his life. As he begins caring for Bronte and her family he begins taking on their hurts and injuries, but at the same time begins to pull away from his uncle and learns the actual powers of his ability. While Bronte tries to “save” Bruiser and change his life with friends and family, not only does she open the door to a love that Bruiser has never known, but also opens the door to pain and a numbness that she has never known.
Seriously….this may be one of the best YA authors out there!!! I think what I love about Shusterman’s books are the questions he asks with them…the way he makes you think deeper about a subject presented in surreal fashion, abortion in Unwind, afterlife in Everlost or dealing with pain and looking for a savior in Bruiser. His writing seems to hit a cord with me every time I read one his books and for that I’m a loyal reader.....wonderfully written through shifting viewpoints, Bruiser is a unique, twisty story that will defiantly cause thought provoking questions and discussions.
Bruiser is recommended to mature teens/adults, but can be enjoyed by the advanced middle grade reader. Contains: Violence (abuse and injury's) family drama including divorce and adultery, bullying, mild sensuality (kissing), emotional pain, and learning to put others before yourself.....(8th grade and up).
Copy provided by Around the World Tours