By Kat Spears
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin
on September 16, 2014
Received from the publisher at BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Cover image and summary from Goodreads:
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.
I picked this up from my TBR pile because I was in the mood for a light, fun read. To my surprise, this wasn’t really a light and fluffy read!
As the book summary says, this is a Cyrano de Bergerac tale, with our main character Jesse (a.k.a. Sway) spending time with Bridget in order to set her up to date jock Ken, who hasn’t been able to get a date with Bridget on his own.
I liked the story and the characters, especially Bridget’s brother, whom Jesse befriends initially as part of his efforts to get to know Bridget better for Ken. I loved that Jesse and Bridget’s brother ended up developing a real friendship. I think that was my favourite part of the book.
Sway was somewhat heavier and darker than I anticipated, which turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Jesse’s life was complicated and not easy, which made him a really interesting character for me to read about.
Sadly, I was missing some sense of connection to the characters, which held me back from enjoying this book more than I did. That said, I would recommend this for contemporary YA fans.