cover image Stand-Off


Andrew Smith, illus. by Sam Bosma. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4814-1829-4

In this thoroughly enjoyable sequel to 2013’s Winger, 15-year-old Ryan Dean West, now a senior at Pine Mountain, is still recovering from the death of his friend Joey, which has left him with nightmares and a recurring sense of dread (personified, in his artwork, as a ghoul dubbed “NATE,” the “Next Accidental Terrible Experience”). Ryan Dean’s rugby coach wants him to step up as captain of the team, a responsibility he isn’t sure he has earned, and he has been saddled with a claustrophobic 12-year-old genius freshman as a roommate. Ryan Dean has to overcome his fears of the future and of letting anyone get too close all while bonding with his rambunctious teammates, trying to have some time alone with his girlfriend, and getting to know Joey’s younger brother, Nico. Ryan Dean’s voice remains engaging, honest, and idiosyncratic (a page-long internal monologue follows his discovery of two teammates in a compromising situation). Smith capably expands on Ryan Dean’s coming-of-age and path to emotional recovery, chronicled through his crude comics and growing maturity. Ages 12–up. Author’s agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Sept.)