by Andrew Smith
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
Available September 8, 2015
Andrew Smith's earlier book Winger was gut-wrenching, heart breaking, soul saddening, and grief-bound , so much so, that I worried about Ryan Dean West. He is that kid you can't help but love. That kid you root for and want to befriend. Could Ryan Dean lose a best friend and go on? Could he pick up the pieces and be whole again? Thank goodness I was not the only reader who had questions about Ryan Dean. The answers lie in Stand Off. Ryan Dean is back at Pine Mountain as a senior and Annie is now his actual girlfriend. Ryan misses Joey greatly. He has not yet come to terms with his loss and he suffers from guilt and anxiety attacks. He worries that NATE (Next Accidental Terrible Experience) will follow him around forever.
That would be bad enough but the headmaster decides to send in 12-year old student Sam Abernathy to become Ryan Dean's new roomie. Ryan Dean can't believe it! A twelve year old?! The headmaster thought that Ryan Dean would get along and guide Sam since Ryan Dean came to the school a few years back at the same age. Sam suffers from claustrophobia and insists that the window be open at all times---even in freezing weather! And he watches cooking shows non-stop! Ryan Dean struggles with Sam's cheerful Disney outlook and chirpy squirrel-y voice. And when Sam becomes the manager for the rugby team, Ryan Dean can't escape the happy-go-lucky kid at all.
Annie finds Ryan Dean's rants silly and mean. She asks him to be nice to Sam. She reminds him that when he came to Pine Mountain he was the youngest and smallest boy there. Ryan Dean slowly...ever so slowly warms up to Sam.
Sometimes friendship takes awhile and sometimes friends have been there all along. Ryan Dean re-evaluates his relationships with his teammates and Sam. Growing up is difficult and graduating is scary, but Ryan Dean begins to realize how lucky he is.
I loved Stand Off. Sequels usually can't compare to the first book, but Andrew Smith has another winner on his hands. Ryan Dean is my FAVORITE YA protagonist of all time and I'll say it again: Watch out, Holden Caulfield!
If you don't know Andrew Smith, what are you waiting for? 100 Sideways Miles and Grasshopper Jungle are also sublime reads.
Highly, highly recommended for fans of Andrew Smith. I'm sure his fan club is growing by the nanosecond. Grade 9-up. Amazon has age 12-up and grade 7-up in "product details."
WARNING: profanity, Ryan Dean thinks of sex A LOT, mature content make this book suitable for grade 9-up in my opinion.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)