Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. 2014. Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Press).
Peter Davidek was an 8th grader visiting St. Michael’s high school when the unthinkable happened. A bullied student went crazy, attacking both faculty and staff by throwing bottles at them from the roof of the building. He and another 8th grader, Noah Stein, intervened and saved the life of a student who had been hit on the head.
Now a freshman at St. Michael’s, Peter and Stein meet Lorelai Paskal, a girl so eager to forget her sad middle school and home life that she’s willing to do anything to be noticed. The three of them quickly become friends as they strive to stand together against the bullying culture where seniors are allowed to “haze” freshmen with the faculty’s blessing.
As the bullying worsens, Peter, Stein and Lorelai find themselves changing. Peter’s parents bully him everyday, causing him to do things he would have never done in the past. Stein is hiding a secret from his father, who seems to resent his son, while Lorelai’s mother beats her for no reason. When Stein falls hard for Lorelai, he doesn’t realize her desire to be popular will come with a price he shouldn’t have to pay.
Breznican’s realistic depiction of bullying and family life leaves his readers to wonder if “Brutal Youth” was based on actual events and, if so, make plans to avoid being a student at St. Michael’s.
Recommended for ages 14 and older.