cover image Bruiser


Neal Shusterman, HarperTeen, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-113408-1

In this thought-provoking, low-key drama, Shusterman (Unwind) examines the bonds between family, friends, and community, and how the individual can affect the whole. Sixteen-year-old twins Tennyson and Brontë Sternberger aren't the closest of siblings, but Tennyson is concerned when his sister starts dating Brewster "Bruiser" Rawlins, an antisocial delinquent from a dubious family. But as the Sternbergers grow closer to Bruiser, they discover his secret: he takes on the pain and injuries of those he cares about, healing them at his own expense, whether he wants to or not. He can even soothe emotional wounds—his mere presence is enough to save the twins' parents' fragmenting marriage—but the cost to Bruiser may be unbearable. Tennyson and Brontë must face the unintended consequences of their actions when disaster strikes and a lifetime of healing others takes its toll on their new friend. Even as the narrative wrestles with philosophical and moral issues, it delves deep into the viewpoints of Tennyson, Brontë, Bruiser, and his younger brother, each segment told in a different, distinctive style, making for a memorable story. Ages 14–up. (July)