Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
About: Shusterman says that he wanted to write about an empath and thus Bruiser was born. The blurb in Smith’s on-line catalog states “Inexplicable events start to occur when sixteen-year-old twins Tennyson and Brontë befriend a troubled and misunderstood outcast, aptly nicknamed Bruiser, and his little brother, Cody.”
Roben says: First of all, you should know that this book is told from four different perspectives – Tennyson, Brontë, Brewster, and Cody. The story starts out like a typical realistic fiction. Brontë likes stray dog type boys and her latest project – and love interest – is Brewster. Tennyson objects since Brewster a.k.a. Bruiser has been voted Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty. Tennyson and Brontë squabble. Their parents’ marriage teeters on the brink of divorce. Tennyson threatens Brewster. Tennyson stalks Brewster, follows him home, and ends up being his friend. But what neither Tennyson nor Brontë realize is that Brewster is – different. REALLY different. Or maybe special is a better way to describe Brewster’s gifts. But you’ll have to read the book in order to figure out exactly what they are.
Never read a book with four different narrators? Give it a try – each character’s “voice” is written in a different style. Tennyson writes in first person past tense, Brontë in first person, present. Brewster’s chapters are in free verse and Cody’s are stream of consciousness. This book is definitely thought provoking in a Twilight Zone/Stephen King kind of way (and I’m thinking more along the lines of “Green Mile” for the King comparison… ) If that’s your thing, then check out Bruiser. Even though it addresses sensitive topics like child abuse and complicated divorce, this is a book that I would recommend for 8th grade and up.