Three freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that's even worse in Anthony Breznican's Brutal Youth.
With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael's has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal - so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.
To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once-popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.
Anthony Breznican's Freshman Novel is about the lives of the freshmen at St. Michael's Catholic School. The book is a mix of the Breakfast Club and Steven King's Carrie without the blood.
Turning tormenting into mentoring is the desire of Sister Maria, but traditional hazing is far more solid than the leaky roof of the school. As young boys and girls become Men and Women the also are the targets of ridicule. This dilapidated old catholic school is falling apart on the outside and being torn apart on the inside by politics, financial crisis, and according to some bad management. As if you can manage a group of high school children.
The story unfolds as we are introduced to characters from all grade level and social class attending St. Michael's. The shy and ugly, the Rich and Powerful, and the lone minority student work their way through freshman year.
Breznican has managed to perfectly set the stage for a second, third and fourth book as we follow this freshman class through their seemingly incarcerated state as students in this most ungodly of Catholic Schools.
I was grabed by each character and the vocal work of Matthew Brown was supurb. I was often taken back to my own high school years in the 80's. These kids lived their life with out acknowledging the world around them or outside their sphere of influence.
This is an Excelent audiobook and I expect to read more about these characters Sophmore year.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Althought it is well written and narrated, I had to stop listening when hours went by and nothing good happened to any characters that outweighed the bad.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This was hard for me to get into at the beginning because the story was so brutal. The characters in the book are pretty awful – mean, petty, dishonest, and selfish. I found it hard to listen to maybe because some of them were familiar. As the story unfolded, I found it hard to stop listening. Everyone is flawed but there is some redemption and some bitter truth about how character is formed.
Could not listen to this book long enough to get into the story. The narrator had everyone sounding like a Saturday morning cartoon show , until I couldn't take it any more and left it unfinished. Definitely sending this one back!
A coming-of-age story worthy of shelf-space with Catcher in the Rye. Exposes in delicious layers how complicit we can be in our own torment and that of others. Youth might be wasted on the young, but as Breznican show us it can also be brutal.