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.



If you thought high school was hell, has Anthony Breznican got a story for you…Every bully who stalked you, every sadistic teacher who ever terrified you, every stupid prank, every hopeless crush and false friend: they’re all here, along with a few kids who hang together and try to do the right thing in a brutal environment. By turns funny and terrifying, Brutal Youth is an unputdownable tour-de-force, a Rebel Without a Cause for the 21st century.

— Stephen King



With Brutal Youth, Anthony Breznican has captured high-school life in all its gruesome, wild, survival-of-the-fittest lunacy. His portrait of teenagers — and the theorectical grownups who tend to them — is, by turns, painfully funny and painfully painful, but always sharp as a well-carved stick.

— Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl



Anthony Breznican's debut screams with undeniable talent. Part The Outsiders. Part Stephen King's The Body. The aptly named Brutal Youth is a funny, tough, and heartbreaking book about the darker side of growing up.

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower



Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican is one of the most thought-provoking, troubling, captivating stories I've read in a long time. My hear still hurst when I think of what those characters went through. Breznican does a fantastic job of creating people you fall in love with, making you experience their pain and cheer their triumps as each page goes by. Their stories will haunt me for some time to come. The anti-bullying message is earned, heartily, instead of being thrust in your face. First and foremost the book is an intriguing, rich, perfectly paced, entertaining read. I also enjoyed the dark humor that offsets the harrowing tone at just the right spots. Highly recommended.

— James Dashner, The Maze Runner



As a child, few things are scarier than school. In Brutal Youth, you'll realize how right your younger self was. This one will haunt you.

— Brad Meltzer, The Fifth Assassin



Breznican has accomplished that rare feat of unflinchingly exposing the high school experience in all of its hilarity, vengeance, and terror. You'll think Roald Dahl just went for a swim in the world of John Hughes and came out wearing prison sripes. Life isn't fair ... but high school is brutal. This is the most richly detailed and nuanced academic microcosm since Dead Poets Society. You may never have been to St. Michael the Archangel High School, but you will fear it after reading this power and hilarious debut novel. Never has a story brought me back to the merciless teachers and ruthless bullies with such poetry and wit.

— Jason Reitman, Juno and Up In The Air



Breznican captures a perfect balance of horror, heartbreak, and resilence and takes the high school novel into deeper places. Great for the beach, but not just a summer read.

Library Journal, starred review



A story that confidently rips through the tangles of high school insanity. The author molds real characters out of  high school stereotypes, most notably the misfits, all struggling for a humble slice of dignity within St. Michael's wretched, bleeding walls. The satiric narrative is as brilliantly hilarious as it is poignant and heartrending.

School Library Journal, starred review



Breznican leavens the bleak premise with sharp, darkly comic dialogue that feels authentic to his well-drawn characters, particularly the adolescents. This quick, unsettling coming-of-age novel blends sympathy and satire with surprising effectiveness.

Shelf Awareness



This novel will stir memories inside of you, both positive and negative, ably placing it among - though admittedly above - the dearth of stories available about the emergence of early adulthood.

CBS Detroit



Mr. Breznican’s Brutal Youth is, in some ways, a scholastic version of Lord of the Flies. It shows the cruelty and sometimes resultant violence that can come from tiered societies that people create.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



It's crackling good entertainment: arresting from the first page to the last, full of plot twists, characters to root for (and against).

USA Today


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© 2014 Anthony Breznican