at last… Review & Giveaway: Sway by Kat Spears

April 6, 2018 Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 13 ★★

I received this book for free from Gifted in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

SwaySway by Kat Spears
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 16th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Gifted
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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 life, 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’ve had a copy of Sway for quite a long time so I’m happy I finally found the time to pick it up and see what it was all about. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I hoped.

Jesse, or Sway as many call him, is the guy who can get you things. Be it fake IDs, drugs, alcohol, a hot date, or even information. A speciality he is well known for among classmates and adults alike. When a popular football player requests his services to obtain a date with a girl named Bridget, Jesse inserts himself into her life as a way to learn all about her and in doing so he finds that perhaps he is interested in Bridget for himself.

Jesse is a very hard character to like. He’s sort of harsh and indifferent towards others which benefits him in his speciality, especially when he is required to do a lot of unsavory activities to get people what they want, but it really distances him from developing any sort of relationship with others and makes him hard to connect with. I’m all for imperfect characters and how real they can feel and then rooting for them to sort of grow and change and Jesse was exactly that – unapologetically rude and lacking emotion towards others. Normally I can get behind that in a character but he took it to another level and was downright offensive over and over again and it made me super uncomfortable. He did have one friend named Joey that he seemed to genuinely care about deep down, but she was barely in the story and that was unfortunate because I did like the dynamic between them in what we did see. By the end I’m just not sure if I saw much character growth in Jesse. In certain aspects, yes. But in the ways that bothered me most? I don’t know about that.

This book is really not a romance at all and I think it is good to know that heading in. Bridget is a super compassionate and sweet girl, the complete opposite of Jesse. It felt more like intrigue and curiosity between them because they are so different than falling for each other romantically. Instead of focusing on these two falling in love the book sort of followed Jesse hanging out with Bridget’s brother and working his deals with all sorts of strange people. And while his ability to get people what they want was sort of an interesting part of this novel, you have to suspend a little disbelief to get there.

Overall, this was really just an okay read for me. I found as I read I didn’t really care for how it would end but I think I’m okay with how it did. Perhaps this is a case of ‘it’s me not you’.


I know Sway didn’t work for me but perhaps it will for you! Enter to win my ARC below!

Giveaway Rules:

1. Giveaway is US only!
2. Must be at least 13 years old to enter.
3. Winner has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be selected.
4. I am not responsible for any lost, stolen or damaged items.
5. Please follow the entry directions in the rafflecopter. (I do check and will delete entries that do not follow the directions. If you have any questions on how to enter, please ask!)

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Time to vote for next months at last… read!

About Kat Spears

KAT SPEARS has worked as a bartender, museum director, housekeeper, park ranger, business manager, and painter (not the artistic kind). She holds an M.A. in anthropology, which has helped to advance her bartending career. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her three freeloading kids. She is the author of Sway, Breakaway, and The Boy Who Killed Grant Parker.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

13 Responses to “at last… Review & Giveaway: Sway by Kat Spears”

  1. Danielle Hammelef

    The synopsis as written confuses me and it’s difficult to tell exactly what this book is about, so maybe this debut didn’t have a true focus when published and that didn’t help you like it. I haven’t read it yet, but would like to read it to see for myself if I share your opinion. It’s always disappointing to me when a book I can’t wait to read falls flat or worse.

  2. Sam@WLABB

    I have had this one on my TBR for quite a while. I really thought it was a romance. –sigh– Sorry it didn’t work for you, and I hope your next read is better. I put in my vote for Renee Carlino. The book is full of tragedy and drama and the heroine will make you want to shake her at one point, but I enjoyed it.
    Sam@WLABB recently posted…Black Sheep Reviews – Volume 1My Profile

    • Sara @ Forever 17 Books

      I initially thought it was a romance too! The covers (my ARC has a different one than this) and even the blurb hints to it. And though I feel like the story revolves around the MC and his actions and reactions to a girl he may be interested in, it really isn’t much of a romance at all.

      Thanks for the vote! The Renee Carlino isn’t winning the votes but I will remember to add it to the next pile too!

  3. Kara S

    Having read your lukewarm review, I am still interested in reading this book. While I have lowered my expectations, I am curious to see the exposition of this Jesse character over the course of the novel’s events since the author’s primary purpose was not to write a hit romance story. What is this character driven novel like — how is it good and bad? That’s what I’ll be looking for now that I’ve read your ideas. Thanks! –Kara S

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