Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Stand Off by Andrew Smith

4 Stars
“In his senior year at Pine Mountain Academy, Ryan Dean West came to appreciate things that he’d tried to resist, and one of those things was change.”

Let’s begin this review by noting that it might potentially piss some people off, shall we????

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So yeah. Don’t bother trolling. I have zero of the f*@s to give when it comes to haters of Andrew Smith.

Stand-Off was probably not a great book. But again, I am giving zero of the f*&^s today so it gets 4 Stars anyway. Let’s put a disclaimer or an asterisk in here – these aren’t 4 regular Kelly and Mitchell Stars, they are 4 MOM (boooo hiss, right?) Stars. When I read Winger I felt it was written for me – a grown-up who likes to read “kid” books. When I read Stand-Off it was clear from the start I was reading something that was written for my oldest son.

In this sequel Ryan Dean is a Senior (albeit a 15 year old Senior) who finds himself assigned the next Ryan Dean (a/k/a Sam Abernathy – another 12 year old genius who is starting at Pine Mountain) as his roommate. Ryan Dean doesn’t have time to be the mentor to young Sam, though. He has plenty of things to occupy his time already. His studies – which are on the super creepy side due to the selection of instructors at Pine Mountain, his girlfriend Annie Altman, the rugby team, and this guy he’s been calling Nate (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience). You see, after the loss of Ryan Dean’s BFF Joey, he just has a feeling more awful is waiting in the wings . . . .

What everyone just couldn't understand was the fact that Ryan Dean West was not going to make friends with anyone else this year. What’s the point in friendship? When bad things happen to your friends, it hurts worse than if it was your own heart breaking.”

At that point I was feeling kinda like this . . .

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Alright, so as a Mom (boo hiss) reading this second book I was thinking how this sequel (like most sequels) probably really wasn’t necessary and the actual issue of the PTSD or whatever Ryan Dean was experiencing wasn’t really dealt with in a realistic way (with the lack of parental knowledge and one therapy session and zero details about treatment and yada yada yada), but as a mother of a teenaged boy this book WAS. SO. IMPORTANT.

Andrew Smith has received a serious amount of flak for not writing quality female characters. Here’s the deal. As a mother of boys I’m telling you I need writers like Andrew Smith to write quality MALE characters. And he does it. One author can’t save the damn world – let him excel at what he is great at and leave the rest to a different kind of writer.

Ryan Dean West was kind of an asshole. Guess what? My kid . . . . sometimes kind of an asshole. Ryan Dean was a puny little pee-on who had a sudden growth spurt over the summer and is now potentially hot. Same with my kid. Amazing what gaining a couple of inches in height and losing all your babyfat can do to get serious name recognition in the hallways of the local middle school. Ryan Dean West suffered from inexplicable boners at the most inopportune time and embarrassing homework assignments like giving himself a “TSE” (that’s testicular self-exam, for the layman). Ryan Dean had to deal with friends coming out of the closet and was simply amazing and perfect and accepted them immediately and assured them that he would never spill any beans they would not be comfortable being spilt. Ryan Dean also had a girlfriend that he can’t wait to go ALL. THE. WAY. with, but he worried about mutual consent and making sure he obtained said mutual consent before making any sudden moves. And Ryan Dean played sports. A lot. Which, to be honest, Kelly and Mitchell were not superfans of reading about, but again in Mom (boo hiss) world, this was another major selling point to the manchild who isn’t a huge fan of book reading (unless those books are comic books). Also, dear NFL players – quit being pussies. These rugby dudes do what you do and they do it without HELMETS FFS!

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Anyway, rant over. Haters gonna hate, but when it comes to me and Andrew Smith I want him to . . . .

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and I thank him for writing young men like Ryan Dean and their realistic (although sometimes terrifying for a Mom (boo hiss) to read about) voices.

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