Fandom Friday-Winger by Andrew Smith

The Fandom Friday is a weekly feature, with each blog post written by a new contributor.

This is the weekly post where either myself, or a guest blogger, talks about a new fandom. See, I’ve had the experience in my life where I’ve been made fun or put down about my particular fandoms. And that has made me feel pretty crappy. But I’ve also put down other fandoms as well.

So I’ve decided to change that. I’m opening my world up to new fandoms, and the best way to do that is to bring people in to write about various fandoms. I’m very excited about this segment.

If you guys are interested in becoming a guest blogger for the Fandom Friday, feel free to email me at whatanerdgirlsays at or contact me HERE

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I know. I know. I haven’t done one of these in ages. I apologize. I could blame NaNoWriMo or school or any number of things but it all boils down to this…I’m lazy ;)

I also know that technically the subject of this week’s Fandom Friday is not exactly a Fandom. But its a book thats extremely important to me, was one of the BEST reads of the year, and its a book that I literally keep pushing on people. I kept pushing my boyfriend to read it, telling him he was going to like it and it took him ages, but he finally did.

And he absolutely loved it. We spent one night just discussing it, and discussing how good it was, and lamenting and whining about how its not nearly as popular as it should be. He even recommended it to a customer who was looking for a book for her son. I converted him.

So now its time to convert you.

Winger by Andrew Smith

What It Is: 

Winger is Andrew Smith’s 6th (7th?) novel, a standalone contemporary YA novel. It follows the story of Ryan Dean West, a 14 year old boy, and his adventures in boarding school. He’s extremely smart, having skipped a couple grades. But he also is a fumbling, awkward, and extremely funny normal teen boy. You follow him as he deals with homework, playing rugby, the always fun trial and tribulations of teenage girls and more. The book is all in Ryan Dean’s head, which means you get his intelligence but you also get his insane sarcasm and humor throughout the entire novel. Not only do you get his narration but you get pictures and diagrams of his life and he’ll have conversations with himself (Ryan Dean 1 and Ryan Dean 2). This book is hilarious. I can’t even begin to tell you HOW hilarious it is.

On the very first page, Ryan Dean’s head is hovering precariously over a toilet bowl, and two kids are trying to shove his head into it. The thoughts that are going through his head while this is happening is enough to grab you from the very beginning. Its a simple story of a boy in high school, but there’s also so much more below as well. In Ryan Dean’s encounters with girls, friends, trouble, mischief, school, and the normal every day life of a teenager, he learns a lot and lives a lot.

How I Found It

I first met Andrew Smith when I went to the Ontario Teen Book Fest. I was an invitee to the Author Breakfast, which was exciting for me and for my blog. I knew a few of the authors like Jessica Brody and Morgan Matson and Marie Lu but others were brand new to me (and most of them became favorites this year). I didn’t know Andrew Smith but after Carrie Arcos told me about his amazing books, I had to introduce myself. He was funny, inspiring and just a great guy to talk to. He talked about his lack of support when he wanted to be a writer, and his desire to support his own kids in whatever they choose to do. It really hit me.

The Teen Book Fest was the unofficial launch of Winger. It was a Saturday event, and the book was set to release on that Tuesday. But they were specially releasing it for the event, and, because I’m not as good with foresight as I’d like to think I am, I didn’t buy it. I put it immediately on my “to-read” list but that was it. Later that day though, I follow Andrew on Twitter and Facebook and such, and discovered that Winger was going to be featured in The New York Times, a couple days before its release. Thats incredible!

So I finally bought it on ebook, and devoured it, and then lamented that I didn’t have a signed copy of it, because its one of the best books that I’ve ever read, and I kept missing all of his signings, and I finally saw him again in October and got it signed. Which felt like a huge accomplishment. Then I spent all the months since June, when I read it, shoving down everyone’s throats. Which is essentially what I’m doing here as well.

Why You Should Be Reading It

Because…because you just should! It is the best book of the year (close second is Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl). Easily. This book blew my mind. I couldn’t believe how much it made me laugh. The humor is fantastic. Its exactly what I would imagine that a teen boy’s mind would be. After Jon read it, I asked him if it was that way, and he confirmed it for me. Ryan Dean is the realistic mind of a teenage boy. Andrew Smith gives teens more credit than authors in the past and recognizes their intelligence and maturity. But he also recognizes that they’re TEENS. They are full of sarcasm and hormones and awkwardness and all of that. One minute Ryan Dean is talking to friends, or doing homework, and the next, he’s lamenting over a hot girl or punching a teammate in the face. He’s all over the place. He has an amazing, hilarious character.

This is what I tell people, because I feel like it really resonates with the YA audience right now. John Green is the most popular YA author right now. It was shown in the EW’s YA Book Tournament, when The Fault in Our Stars went up against Harry Potter. Thank goodness Harry Potter won. I love TFIOS but its not one of the best YA books. Its just not. But he is the pinnacle of YA right now. You don’t meet YA readers who haven’t read at least one of his books, most likely TFIOS. So people know him.

So this is what I say, which is the truth: Andrew Smith takes what John Green does, and makes it so much better. He doesn’t hold back. He doesn’t go in, careful about language or context. He just writes. He just writes the story, and tells it like it is. Which is what makes it so good. He is genuine in the story he is telling. I tell people, its like you’re hanging out with Andrew and he’s telling you about his time in boarding school. Its not written like someone writing a novel, but just someone telling a story (and yes, there is a difference).

Plus, its funny. Its just so hilarious. Its full of so much humor. Every time Ryan Dean has a conversation with himself, I’m laughing, because I totally do the same thing. How often do we argue with ourselves before we do something? And the drawings and diagrams that are in the book crack me up too. Its full of so much humor, but it has the ability to tug at your other emotions as well.

Look, if that doesn’t convince you, maybe this will. My boyfriend is not a YA reader. He’s read some John Green and he’s read the entire Harry Potter series and he likes both. But he reads Truman Capote and Kurt Vonnegut and authors like that. He’s attempting Ulysses by James Joyce right now and he reads books about MATH and SCIENCE. He tends to stay away from YA, not because he has anything against it (because I would THROW DOWN) but because its just not what he enjoys reading.

But I convinced him to read Winger and he loves it. He loved it so much that he gave me my copy back and immediately bought his own copy. He keeps talking to me about it. It is obviously a book that he enjoyed, and that is saying something. Even if your’e not a YA reader normally, you’re going to like this book. I guarantee it.

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I hope this convinces you. If it doesn’t convince you, please feel free to send your address to my email address (under Contact) and I would be happy to pay you a visit, and convince you in person. I’ll do it. Don’t tempt me ;)

Andrew’s new book Grasshopper Jungle will be hitting bookstores in February (I’m counting down the days!), and as the year wraps up, Winger is getting a ton of recognition and accolades. Do NOT miss out on this book. Also check him out at his website, because he’s constantly doing events and you will not regret meeting this awesome author.

Happy Reading!

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