~ A NOVEL ~
Freshman Peter Davidek only wants to stay out of trouble. All his combative friend Noah Stein wants is to fight back. And Lorelei Paskal, their shared crush, needs a safe haven from her horrible home life, so she's desperate to make friends — no matter how many enemies she creates along the way. These three find themselves fighting for survival at St. Michael the Archangel High School, a once-prestigious institution that has become a crumbling dumping ground for delinquents, misfits, and the unlucky.
It's a place where bullying is sanctioned as "fun and games" hazing, where the unwritten rule is you can't hurt anyone who can hurt you back — and there's no one to turn to because the adults are part of the problem. The parish priest is embezzling from the church, the guidance counselor is coming unhinged with rage and regret, and the well-intentioned nun who runs St. Mike's mistakenly thinks compromise and cover-up can fix things.
A coming-of-age tale, a dark comedy, and a tragedy all rolled into one, Brutal Youth follows this band of students as they learn whether it's possible to protect yourself without losing who you are.
This quick, unsettling coming-of-age novel blends sympathy and satire with surprising effectiveness.
Breznican captures a perfect balance of horror, heartbreak, and resilience and takes the high school novel into deeper place.
Library Journal, starred review