Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Bruiser

Shusterman, Neal (Author)
HarperCollins 2011. 328 pages
First published: 2010
ISBN: 9780061134104 (paperback)
9780061134081 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, figurative language, multigenre, point of view

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Tennyson believes his twin sister Brontë has picked up one of her stray-loser projects when she starts dating Brewster (aka Bruiser). But during the twins’ family crisis, and the breakdown of Brewster’s own small family, Brewster’s problem is complicated: his body acts like a magnet for the pain and suffering of those he cares for.

“‘I like your friends,’ he had told me . . . . It had never occurred to me that for Brewster Rawlins, the cost of friendship was exacted in flesh.” The risk inherent in life and relationships is ingeniously personified by a character who “steals” the injuries of others.

With witty and insightful language, the plot unfolds through different voices: the twins (whose parents are going through another marital crisis) and Brewster’s little brother (who’s gotten a pass for his rash behaviour, so far). Befitting his mystical, saint-like character, Brewster’s perspective is often conveyed with free verse. ”I did not choose this gift./I cannot help what I do . . . . At best I can mold it, and even direct it, Use it myself, before others use me.”

The importance of accepting responsibility for one’s own pain becomes evident when Brewster’s loved ones learn to accept the physical and emotional consequences of their choices, and start refusing him as their dumping ground: “. . . as if happiness is a state of being. But it’s not. Happiness is a vector. It’s movement.”

  •  

    Multiple voices tell this story. In contrast with the pain he endures, Brewster’s chapters are told in introspective verse. Brontë and the other characters offer a more conventional first-person narrative.

  •  

    Brontë writes: “It’s strange that we always want people to feel what we feel.” In small groups, discuss the meaning of this line and its impact on Brontë and Brewster.

  •  

    Read “Chapter 12 1/2: Pigeonholed.” This chapter, written from the point of view of Tennyson, was left out of the final novel. Write a quick-write based on a line or short excerpt from this chapter and use your ideas to begin the production process for a persuasive or argumentative text.

  •  

    The author chose to write this novel from four different points of view. Scan a selected excerpt from one of them and note the one-word chapter titles. Write definitions for words you don’t understand.

  •  

    In small groups, take a different character/excerpt, discuss your understanding of the story. Begin your discussions by referring to the chapter titles. Share why you think they make sense.

  •  

    Why would the author have Brewster express himself in verse? Why choose to have him imitate Allen Ginsberg’s style of poetry? Why does the author refer to Ginsberg’s famous poem, “Howl” (page 63)? Research both the author and the poem, and make links to this novel and to teenagers today.

  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal Development