Author: Kat Spears
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
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 ice, 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 love books that are told from a boy’s perspective and there just aren’t enough of them in YA. Because of that, I was really excited about Kat Spears’s Sway. It was even one of the boys I was most excited about this fall. And I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint me.
Jesse Alderman is the person to go to no matter what you need. He’s made quite the name for himself when it comes to getting people what they want. But he never thought that would mean having to get Ken Foster, football captain and major meathead, a date with Bridget Smalley, the nicest girl in school. It shouldn’t be a difficult job. After all, Jesse is an expert when it comes to reading people. And everything would be going according to plan if Jesse wasn’t suddenly developing feelings for Bridget. Now Jesse finds himself spending time at an old folks’ home and in an unlikely friendship with Pete, Bridget’s belligerent younger brother. No one expected this to happen less than Jesse. Especially since he’s supposed to be getting Bridget to go out with Ken, not himself.
Have I mentioned that I loved books that are told from a boy’s perspective? Because I do. I really do. And it often feels like there just aren’t enough of them in YA. Or at least I’m not finding and reading them (as a side note — if you’ve any recommendations, just leave them in the comments). All that is to say that I was initially really excited about reading Kat Spears’s Sway because of the boy perspective. But it also sounded like it had the potential to be quite an interesting story, considering the main character is trying to get the girl he’s in love with to fall in love with someone else. And that definitely turned out to be true. It definitely led to some interesting situations. What disappointed me a little was that there wasn’t as much humour as I thought there was going to be. Considering the premise, there definitely could have been more honour injected in the story. Instead, the humour that was there was more dry and the story was more angsty than I thought it was going to be. And though at first that disappointed me, by the end I really loved that about the story. Because angst, when done well, really makes for some awesome stories. And Jesse brought all the angst. Granted he had his reasons, but he was on angsty boy.
In case you missed it ten seconds ago, Jesse Alderman was one angsty guy. From the bits and pieces I got about his family’s past over the course of the story, I totally understand where the angst came from. In his situation, I probably wouldn’t have been the happiest person ever. At times, though, Jesse was borderline self-destructive. And I don’t know what it says about me, but I kinda liked this angsty, slightly self-destructive boy quite a bit. I really wanted him to get over himself and actually fell something for a change. Because of that, I really enjoyed seeing him come to terms with everything that was happening between him and Bridget, and almost even more so between him and Pete. The friendship between Jesse and Pete was kind of an unexpected relationship, but it might just be my favourite relationship in the whole book. In a way, Pete challenged Jesse to actually feel something, and in return, Jesse didn’t treat Pete in a special way just because he has cerebral palsy. And those two together led to some of my favourite moments in this story.
I really enjoyed Kat Spears’s Sway. It was a great story that had just the right balance of humour, heart and angst. And to make it even better, it was a great story that also happened to be told from a boy’s perspective. So if you’re looking for a book with any and all of these things, than Sway is the book you should be reading.