A YALSA 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults Pick
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.
“Sharp dialogue, edgy humor, and an unlikely hero make this page-turner a winner.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A compelling debut told with swagger and real depth.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“Spears' debut novel sets an update on Cyrano de Bergerac in a contemporary high school, with noir undertones… Raw, honest…A gritty take on the male high school experience.” —Booklist
“Kat Spears debut novel is, quite simply, a delight. It has all the ingredients for an engaging and witty read, laced with honesty and insight that's refreshingly real...the story is gritty and real, unafraid to cross over into the darker sides of teenage life, and unapologetic in its witty and honest portrayal. If anything, Kat Spears may just be the one with some very valuable sway; get ready to be sold.” —Children's Book Review
“A page turner about high school's victims and villains -- and about layers of callousness that spring from true grief. ” —Meg Medina, Pura Belpre award-winning author of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
“[The] characters are fantastic and real, but that plot? The licks and riffs that led to Jesse's transformation totally blew me away, every damn page.” —Gigi Amateau, author of Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel