Author: Neal Schusterman
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Release Date: October 1st 2011 (first published June 29th 2010)
Pages Count/Length: 328 Pages (6 hrs 55 mins)
Format: Paperback/Audio Book
Bruiser is one of those books that just completely blindsides you. I didn’t do a lot of research before I started reading it. Hell, I didn’t do a lot of research before I even decided to buy it. I found it at a thrift store quite a while ago and recognized it as a book that a few booktubers had mentioned previously. It sat on my shelf for a while before I came across it again as a “Daily Deal” audiobook through Audible.
Bruiser tells the story of a misunderstood teenaged boy named Brewster Rawlins, nicknamed Bruiser due to his above average size. His classmates constantly tease him while also being slightly afraid of him. When Brewster begins an unlikely relationship with Brontë, her twin brother Tennyson doesn’t necessarily approve. Soon, strange things start to occur and any scrapes or bruises or physical harm that Brontë or Tennyson endure, disappear without any trace or explanation.
Bruiser started out one way and completely transformed as the story unfolded. Because I didn’t do much research beforehand, this book turned into something completely unexpected. I didn’t realize that there was a magical realism/sci-fi element to it until it presented itself. At first I was unsure about how much I was going to enjoy that element. I thought the story was going one way and I really wasn’t sure how I felt about the magical realism aspect.
Let me tell you right now that Bruiser was one of the best unexpected surprises I have ever read. I didn’t ever want to stop listening to it. I had it going while I got ready in the morning, while I took the bus home from work and every moment in between. I absolutely needed to know what was going to happen next immediately. I don’t think I have ever been this engrossed in an audiobook since I listened to The Martian.
Bruiser is told in four different character’s voices: Brewster, Tennyson, Brontë and Cody (Brewster’s younger brother). When I first began listening to the audiobook I just assumed that the entire novel was going to be told from Tennyson’s point of view as that was the way that it started out. I had no idea that the story was going to jump from character to character, but I’m really glad that it did. This provided the reader with multiple reactions to the same events. It showed us how the different characters were effected by different scenarios.
I absolutely loved all four of these main characters. When the novel first begins, we are viewing the story from Tennyson’s point of view. At first, Tennyson was a bit of a jerk and I really didn’t know how I felt about him, but as the story progressed and his attitude changed, he became one of the best characters. Brewster, however, instantly became my favourite. I loved the different ways in which Tennyson and Brontë came to befriend Brewster and I loved seeing their relationships grow. Brewster is the gentle giant type. Everyone assumes he’s mean and awful simply because of his large size, but in reality he is quite possibly the most innocent and pure character I have ever read. The relationships between him and Brontë, Tennyson and his brother Cody were all so different from one another, yet he loves them all equally.
The ending of this novel had me on the edge of my seat…quite literally, I was on the bus as I listened to the ending and I was just so anxious the entire time! I wanted everything to be okay and I wanted everything to be perfect, but like I said, Bruiser is one of those books that completely blindsides you. The ending was unexpected and it was left open rather than having a solid and conclusive ending. It’s hard to talk about without giving too much away. While there is room for a potential sequel, I truly believe that the open ending was the way to go for this novel.
As you can clearly tell, I absolutely loved Bruiser. I didn’t necessarily expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but I am really glad that I found it. Bruiser is a beautifully written novel that deals with heavy themes while adding a magical realism twist to the story. I thought that this novel was brilliant and I’m extremely eager to read more of Neal Schusterman’s work in the near future!