Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review: Stick by Andrew Smith

Stick by Andrew Smith
Published by Fiewel & Friends
Date Published: October 11, 2011
Rating: 5/5
“What would you hear if my words could make sounds? And if they did, what music would I write for you?”
I’d heard whispers about this book. Mainly that it was a “hard, real life contemp” and it was really, really good. Well, that was enough for me. And guess what. Both of those things were completely true.
While reading it, I felt as though I was watching a poetic CSI episode. It was gritty and hard and I had moments where I covered my face and took a moment for myself cause I was just like ‘Noooooo... not that...’ (but in a horribly painful good way...)

Here’s my small warning though. DO NOT READ THE SUMMARIES POSTED EVERYWHERE! It spoils like half the book! However, I will now give you my really short, BETTER summary: Stick and Bosten are best friends and brothers with a truly crappy home life. And it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
Okay, so my summary probably isn’t something they would put on the back of the book, but at least it’s direct, to the point and not as spoilery. Sorry, Feiwel & Friends.

But, I digress. In short, this book was brilliant.
This book is a beautiful presentation of a caged life and the trials and tribulations that come with leaving that life. Sometimes, as a reader, peering into a world, it is so hard for us to be kept at the fourth wall, seeing past what the characters are being forced to deal with. For this book, the most heart-wrenching moments were the glimpses of freedom Stick and Bosten finally got. For them to finally learn that the whole world isn’t like the strict, repressive home they grew up in. And there was just so much of that it made me heart-sick the whole time.
In a good way. Always in a good way.

Being an English major (who took her share of children’s and adolescent lit classes) I can tell you the phrase “coming of age story” has been thrown around more than I care to admit. Most of the time, even when YA stories are “coming of age” they don’t feel “coming of age”. The pains and terrors of growing up are so often sugar-coated by adults who have long since forgotten the soul-shattering pain it can be.
This, is not that.
While I have never been a teenage boy (duh), I read this story and feel like it’s real. It feels completely realistic to me. And I certainly don’t get that feeling from all contemporary 1st person male POV books I’ve read. That is why I think this book is truly extraordinary.

Last, little note. As per my request, Novel Thoughts did not publish the publisher’s summary and instead, I typed out the very first line in the opening of the book. It is gorgeous. Like something straight out of a voice over in a Terrence Malick film. Read it aloud and let the sound of it dance in your ears.


  1. This book sounds amazing! It's one I've been really wanting to read for a long time now! I'm definitely going to have to make this one a priority! 

    And I'm glad you posted about the spoilers in the summary! I'll make sure I don't read it!

  2. Thank you very much, Jennifer. And thank you for NOT printing any pre-chewed-and-spit-out-summaries of the book. You know. They're horrible. But it's almost impossible to really tell what this book is about. You did a fantastic job, and I am flattered and grateful.

  3. I love this review almost as much as I love this book. Well done. Thanks, Jennifer!