Brutal Youth (Thomas Dunne Books)

Join us for the launch party for this dark and electrifiying coming-of-age novel by Anthony Breznican, senior staff writer for Entertainment Weekly.

Inspired by author author's own adolescence growing up in Western Pennsylvania in the early '90s, his debut novel Brutal Youth follows the lives of three freshmen at St. Michael’s, a troubled Catholic school that is literally and figuratively collapsing. It’s a haven for religious zealots fearful of public schools, as well as a dumping ground for violent delinquents who’ve been expelled from those same places of learning.

With a declining reputation and plunging enrollment, “St. Mike’s” has no money to repair its ancient, crumbling building. As the desperate student population unleashes their aggression on newcomers, parents and teachers are little help, wrapped up in their own regrets and scandals, often making them less trustworthy than the kids they’re supposed to watch over.

On his first day at St. Mikes, 14-year-old Peter Davidek comes face-to-face with a deranged upperclassman unleashing violence on his fellow students. While others flee, Davidek defies the cowering teachers and helps rescue a wounded student – a good deed that does not go unpunished.

He doesn’t face his ruthless freshman year alone. Davidek befriends the volatile Noah Stein, a classmate with a mysterious scar across his face—evidence of his love for starting (and finishing) fights, and Lorelei Pascal, a beautiful but lonely girl who is determined to be loved at her new school—no matter how many people she has to alienate along the way.

Beyond the threat of bullying, the three also face Ms. Bromine, a disturbed guidance counselor who longs for her glory days as a once-popular student, and loathes those who’ve taken her place; a parish priest, Father Mercedes, who steals from the church finances and plots to scapegoat students for the shortfall; and a well-meaning, but weak-willed nun, Sister Maria, who finds that being principal may require more ferocity than she can muster.

A darkly comic coming of age tale, Brutal Youth is a story of good kids going bad, and best friends willing to do anything to protect each other.

Praise for Brutal Youth:
"If you thought high school was hell, has Anthony Breznican got a story for you... Every bully who stalked you, every sadistic teacher who ever terrified you, every stupid prank, every hopeless crush and false friend: they’re all here, along with a few kids who hang together and try to do the right thing in a brutal environment. By turns funny and terrifying, Brutal Youth is an unputdownable tour-de-force, a Rebel Without a Cause for the 21st century." —Stephen King

"Breznican has accomplished that rare feat of unflinchingly exposing the high school experience in all of its hilarity, vengeance, and terror. You'll think Roald Dahl just went for a swim in the world of John Hughes and came out wearing prison stripes. Life isn't fair... but high school is brutal." —Jason Reitman, Academy Award-nominated director of Juno

“With Brutal Youth, Anthony Breznican has captured high-school life in all its gruesome, wild, survival-of-the-fittest lunacy. His portrait of teenagers—and the theoretical grownups who tend to them—is, by turns, painfully funny and painfully painful, but always sharp as a well-carved stick.”—Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl

“Breznican does a fantastic job of creating people you fall in love with, making you experience their pain and cheer their triumphs as each page goes by. Their stories will haunt me for some time to come. The anti-bullying message is earned, heartily, instead of being thrust in your face. First and foremost the book is an intriguing, rich, perfectly paced, entertaining read. I also enjoyed the dark humor that offsets the harrowing tone at just the right spots.”—James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner

"As a child, few things are scarier than school. In Brutal Youth, you'll realize how right your younger self was. This one will haunt you."—Brad Meltzer, author of The Fifth Assassin and The Book of Lies

Anthony Breznican was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1998. He has worked as a reporter for The Arizona Republic, Associated Press, and USA Today, and is currently a senior staff writer for Entertainment Weekly.

Event date: 
Friday, June 13, 2014 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
90027 Los Angeles
Brutal Youth: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781250019356
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Thomas Dunne Books - June 10th, 2014