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Winger Hardcover – May 14, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—Ryan Dean West is the smartest student in the junior class at Pine Mountain boarding school, a starter on the rugby team, and two years younger than the rest of his classmates. He is also hopelessly in love with his best friend, Annie, who sees him as just a little kid. When Ryan Dean moves into Opportunity Hall, the dorm for misbehaving students (owing to an illegal cell phone encounter the previous year), he finds himself at odds with his roommate, the meanest member of their rugby team. Mark Boyett does a wonderful job narrating, especially Ryan Dean's voice, which reveals his wild imagination, full-blown adolescent hormones, and self-deprecating humor. Other characters' voices are equally believable. Friend Seanny is rendered with a deadpan monotone, while Screaming Ned, an old man the boys offer a ride to, is cantankerous, confused, and done with a high-pitched, scratchy cackle. Ryan Dean's cartoons, doodles, and charts, which add such charm to the print version, are described so that the listener doesn't miss anything. The resulting audiobook is laugh-out-loud-funny at times and heartbreakingly serious at others. This is a terrific recording of an unforgettable book.—Julie Paladino, East Chapel Hill High School, Chapel Hill, NC --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* After he opened a vein in YA lit with The Marbury Lens (2010) and then went completely nutso in Passenger (2012), about the only thing that Smith could do to surprise would be a hornball boarding-school romantic romp. Surprise! Well, sort of. At 14, Ryan Dean West is a couple years younger (and scrawnier) than the rest of the juniors at Pine Mountain. He is a plucky kid—despite a tendency to punctuate his every thought with “I am such a loser”—who stars in the rugby team due to his speed and tenacity. The rail ties of his single-track mind, though, are his exploits (or lack thereof) with the opposite sex, particularly his best friend Annie, who thinks he is “adorable.” In short, Ryan Dean is a slightly pervy but likable teen. He rates the hotness of every female in sight but also drops surprising bombs of personal depth on a friend’s homosexuality, the poisonous rivalries that can ruin friendships, and his own highly unstable mix of insecurity and evolving self-confidence. Much of the story seems preoccupied with the base-level joys and torments of being a teenager, content to float along with occasional bursts of levity from some nonessential but fun minicomics by Bosma. But at its heart, it is more in line with Dead Poets Society, and by the end this deceptively lightweight novel packs an unexpectedly ferocious punch. Grades 9-12. --Ian Chipman
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442444924
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442444928
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Smith knew ever since his days as editor of his high school newspaper that he wanted to be a writer. After graduating college, he experimented with journalistic careers - writing for newspapers and radio stations - but found it wasn't the kind of writing he'd dreamed about doing.

Born with an impulse to travel, Smith, the son of an immigrant, bounced around the world and from job to job, working at various times in a metals mill, as a longshoreman unloading bananas from Central America and imported autos from Japan, in bars and liquor stores, in security, and as a musician, before settling down permanently in Southern California. Here, he got his first "real job," as a teacher in an alternative educational program for At-Risk teens, married, and moved to a rural mountain location. Throughout his life, Smith continued to write, but never considered seeking publication until challenged into it by lifelong friend, author Kelly Milner Halls.

In 2008, Smith published his first novel, Ghost Medicine, an ALA/YALSA "Best Books for Young Adults." This was followed in 2009 with In the Path of Falling Objects, also a BBYA recipient. The Marbury Lens is Smith's third novel, and will be followed in 2011 by Stick.

Smith prefers the seclusion of his rural setting, where he lives with his wife, 16-year-old son, 13-year-old daughter, two horses, three dogs, three cats, and one irritable lizard named Leo.

Customer Reviews

I really liked the narrator Ryan Dean West.
Josh wells
Winger made me literally laugh out loud and cry my eyes out.
Ciara Williams
This book is both hilarious and heartbreaking.
Casey Cuny

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By K. Sowa on May 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This was my first Andrew Smith book and after reading it I finally realized why he has so many devoted fans. Winger was heartbreaking, honest, and hilarious. I don't mean smile while you're reading funny, I mean that I laughed so hard at parts of this book that I woke up my husband because my laughter was shaking the whole bed. (Any book that has a haiku about getting kicked in the balls will always be number one in my heart, ok?) The hilarity is artfully combined with moments of painful honesty that go perfectly with Ryan Dean's raw and unapologetically hormonal narrative voice. The book is also filled with the cartoons and infographics that Ryan Dean creates, which adds to the humor and overall experience of reading this book. For me, it brought me even further into the story because I wasn't just reading about the cartoons that Ryan Dean was drawing for his friends, I was getting to see them, as well. (I would like a graphic novel that tells Screaming Ned's back story, please.)

The thing about Ryan Dean that I loved was that even though he is riddled with a lot of self-doubt, he really doesn't let it hold him back. He's younger and smaller than all of the guys, but he plays rugby with everything he's got, anyway. He's rooming with the biggest bully on the team, but that doesn't stop him from crushing on said bully's girlfriend. The girl he loves thinks of him as a "little boy" but he never gives up. Although some of his decisions made me cringe, I could not help but fall in love with the way he just decided to go big or go home. Although Ryan Dean alone was entertaining enough, the people he interacts with at school were a big part of the reason why I loved this book so much. Every relationship in this book was a treasure.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany M. Stephens on July 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Ryan Dean West may be the most realistic 14 year old narrator I have ever read. Horny, funny, and horribly self-absorbed, he muddles through his junior year, managing to pick fights with just about every male he comes into contact with. But while I liked the voice and style of the narration, I didn't feel any great emotional connection to Ryan Dean. He was supposedly the smartest kid in school ( a junior at age 14), a varsity rugby player, receiver of the affection of the two hottest girls at the school, and friends to some of the most popular kids, yet somehow he was supposed to be pathetic? I didn't buy it. He seemed just as douchey as all the other kids on the Rugby team, even more so , maybe. Perhaps that was the point, but on further reflection, I guess I missed the point of the story entirely. It takes a lot of fights, drunken nights, sex jokes, and make-out sessions before anything of real substance happens in the plot, and then when it does, despite the fact that it is earth shattering, it somehow feels anti-climactic. It was funny, and I will recommend it to my high school students, but I didn't love it like other reviewers did.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amy K. Jensen on August 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked this book out for my 11 year old nephew (just turned 11), but wanted to read it first to make sure it was ok for him. I decided it wasn't right for him, though I know other 11 year olds who are probably mature enough for it. The book tells the story of Ryan Dean, a rugby player at a boarding school in the Pacific Northwest. His best friend is Annie, a fellow student who is a little older than him, and he's totally in love with her and trying to deal with his feelings for her for most of the book. He ends up living in a dorm for the kids who get into trouble, and easily succumbs to their bad behavior, including late night drinking and various pranks. One of the other guys in the dorm (and also a teammate on his rugby team) is gay, so that subject comes up quite a bit, but Ryan Dean doesn't care one way or the other because to him, Joey's a great teammate and friend. It's a good message for boys. There are also a few references to his own body and sexual arousal, and there are a few swear words (which Ryan Dean, as the narrator, recognizes he shouldn't be saying). Given that the book is about a rugby player, there is some violence. The book has a very powerful, emotional ending, and while I thought it was a very good book and had important messages, I think I'll give it to my nephew in another year or so. :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Crazy Something Maybe on November 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book.

Ryan Dean West... He's... something else. I don't even know what to say about this character. He seemed so real. Like RDW could possibly be a real life kid living somewhere in the pacific northwest. He is definitely a little punk and made some super terrible choices, but I love him.

At the beginning of the novel, RDW is such a fourteen year old boy. He's horny and stupid and obsessed with girls and hell bent on reinventing himself for his junior year. Yes, he's a fourteen year old junior because he is smart. He's funny and as a narrator, he's a ton of fun.

I cant help, but feel like this is the perfect book for 14-16 year old boys because it's super irreverent, there's a ton of cursing, and talk about sex and girls, and there are plenty of "coming of age" themes that kids of that age group think about constantly, but feel a little "guilty" about. This book feels edgy for kids that age, but it's written in a way that's almost innocent. If I was a mom, I'd hand this book over like, "found this, I heard it's about rugby," and my kind would read it and think that I had lost my mind and if I knew what the book was really about, I'd take it away. But I know, and it's edgy, but it's innocent and all in good fun.

Additionally, I think this book had a really awesome message, and went about delivering it in a way that wasn't preachy. I think the author did a good job of addressing the homophobia that high school kids spew constantly without actually making anyone seem like a total jerk. It was pretty crappy how RDW constantly felt the need to point out that Joey is gay, but he's fourteen and I feel like at that point, homosexuality may still be somewhat of a mysterious concept that maybe he didn't quite grasp.
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