Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 16, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, contemporary, Realistic fiction
Source: eARC from Publisher
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.
Sway is a young adult contemporary romance by Kat Spears. I have had this book on my review book TBR for forever! It was one of my 2020 goals to try and get my netgalley percentage up, and a goal to try and read older books of mine, so I kind of ping ponged back and forth between reading newer books on my netgalley TBR and some of my oldest books. This was the oldest unread book I had on my TBR, and it came out in 2014!! (I know! You can totally shun me in the comments below!)
Sway was an interesting read with really interesting characters. But it didn’t blow me away. My lukewarm feelings about this book primarily had to do with one of the main characters- Jesse. I just didn’t like him. And I struggled with that because I know he is supposed to be this kind of morally grey, prickly unfeeling cold guy. I know he was that way for a purpose and that purpose was supposed to make his romantic journey all the more satisfying. But he still mostly just bugged me the whole time I was reading. Which bummed me out because I was absolutely in love with Kat Spears writing and story telling abilities.
Jesse is a rough character that felt super realistic to me. He is also a drug dealer so there are drug references and strong language throughout the story in case that is a trigger for anyone. I appreciated Jesse falling for a girl and going through what that meant for him- whether he wanted to change any aspects of himself or not. It was all really interesting to me because Kat Spears does a great job not only not shying away from the grittier, tough issues that young adults face (not everything is sparkly and pristine in their lives). She really made the characters come to life for me. My favorite characters were Jesse’s friends, Joey and Carter. They even redeemed Jesse in my eyes a little bit. I really appreciated that he had friends like them in his life.
Overall, I appreciated the story and the writing, but I couldn’t connect with Jesse as a reader, and that really hindered my ability to get fully invested in his story. Simply put, he rubbed me the wrong way. I think this will be a hate it or love type of book for many readers, so if you are a fan of gritty young adult realistic fiction and morally grey characters, then you might fall in love with Sway. This was an ok read for me, but not my favorite.
But don’t just take my word for it. Check out these reviews from readers that LOVED Sway!
Nicole at Feed your Fiction Addiction Gave it 4 stars!
52 Book Minimum Gave it 5 stars!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2020 Tackle My TBR Reading Challenge
- Romanceopoly 2020