Mon, September 29, 2014

Sway by Kat Spears Review

Sway book cover

Sway book cover

By Kat Spears
Publication date: Sept. 16, 2014
St. Martins Griffin, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or “Sway,” as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want—term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion—until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.

— description

My initial reaction as I read: “What!? A kid doing under the table favors for the principal? Yeah right!”

The concept came off as a bit bogus to me to start — truly, how can one kid have that much, well, “sway”? But as we get to know Jesse — and reluctantly like him — my disbelief turned into a certain amount of awe. This kid is influential and street smart and damaged, yeah, but really really smart.

I like that he is so unapologetic about who he is. And he’s a horrible person, but so charismatic and endearing that you like him anyway. As Bridget repeatedly tell him, “I’m determined to like you even though you don’t want me too.”

I feel ya, Bridge. So, for this alone (and bonus points to Mr. Dunkelman and all the other standout secondary characters), I adored this story. A main character who is just a bastard but you love love love him anyway? Amazing.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

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Posted by: Anna   •   In: friendship, kat spears, male POV, romance


  1. Cassie @ Happy Book Lovers said:

    This intrigued me anyway because I love the cover, but after reading some synopses and reviews, I’m even more intrigued. I feel like you, a certain amount skeptical, but it seems fun anyway and like one I would enjoy despite that!


    Posted on: Mon, September 29, 2014

  2. Pam@YAEscapefromReality said:

    I liked this book, but for some reason I was expecting a light and fluffy. It’s definitely not that. Jesse was so savvy and world-weary, I’m not sure how realistic his character is, but his inner monologue was different so I did appreciate it. I thought it was an impressive debut. I posted my review today too!


    Posted on: Mon, September 29, 2014

  3. Valerie Pennington said:

    I LOVED this book and I can’t wait until I order the pretty UK version. This book took me by surprise. I’m glad that I stuck with it.


    Posted on: Mon, September 29, 2014

  4. We Heart YA said:

    Ooo, the cover made this seem like just another YA rom-com (which is A-OK too!) but your comments about the protag being a lovable bastard now has us totally intrigued!


    Posted on: Mon, September 29, 2014

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