Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Review: Sway: A Novel by Kat Spears

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
320 Pages

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.

This was a book that I was super excited to read. The cover, the blurb on the back, everything about it drew me in. really wasn't what I expected.

Jesse "Sway" Alderman is the go-to guy for everything. You want homework done, he'll get it for you. You need a car wash to be a hit, he'll make it happen. You need drug, he can hook you up. You want a girl to fall in love with you, he can make that happen...well, kinda.

When Jesse is approached by Ken Foster, resident popular guy and jock, to help him get a date with shy, quiet Bridget Smalley, Jesse accepts the job and the $200 to get it done. Then begins the 'getting to know Bridget' process so he can report back to Ken. Of course, Jesse does the unthinkable and begins to fall for her.

What I liked about this book was actually Jesse's friendship with Bridget's brother, Pete, a young boy with cerebral palsy. Yes, he gets close to Pete only to get to Bridget, but you can actually see their friendship building throughout the book. Pete was someone who needed a real friend and someone who wouldn't treat him differently because of his disability - that was definitely Jesse. It's also the only time Jesse really showed any compassion for others.

However, I really wish the author would have spent the same amount of time on the relationship between Jesse and Bridget. There was a great deal of focus when they first met and then at the end, but the in between story was more "How Jesse and Pete became friends". I didn't really get the swoony feels that I wanted in their relationship and I also didn't really feel their chemistry.

Another problem I had were the characters themselves. For the most part, Jesse wasn't a likeable character. He was rude and a liar. Some of the things he did and said were horrible. He had a few moments of sweetness where you saw that he was an actual person, but for the most part he was just doing his business. Bridget was very...timid? We didn't really see a lot of her so it was hard to get a read on her. The times we did see her, she wasn't a very strong character.

I didn't dislike it, but I didn't love it. And it definitely didn't feel like a love story. It was more, a day in the life of Sway. I just feel like maybe I expected too much out of it.

And it's probably mostly my fault but


  1. This is all well and good until one of his endeavors - to facilitate a romance between a football star and a high school beauty - suddenly becomes personal, and he falls for the girl himself. What ensues in a charming, poignant exploration of soul-searching, personal reflection, and moral ambiguity. To tell much more would spoil the plot, so suffice it to say I really enjoyed this book on every level.


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