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.
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 16th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
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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!
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