Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Brutal Youth Paperback Blog Tour: Excerpt & Giveaway

 “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….  By turns funny and terrifying, Brutal Youth is an unputdownable tour-de-force, a Rebel Without a Cause for the 21st century.”
Stephen King

“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 grown-ups 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

“crackling good entertainment: arresting from the first page to the last, full of plot twists, characters to root for (or against) and plenty of suspense…the stuff that page-turners are made of.”
USA Today

Inspired by author Anthony Breznican’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.



The Boy on the Roof

The kid had taken a lot of punishment over the years, so he had much to give back.

A steel hatch on the roof of St. Michael the Archangel High School shuddered, then burst open, and the boy crawled out and collapsed against the gritty tarpaper surface, kicking the lid shut again with one sock-covered foot. He wore only his uniform gray slacks and a wide-open button-down shirt, streaked with blood that wasn't his. A black canvas book bag hung over one shoulder, swinging back and forth as he scrambled to his knees. He pressed his weight against the closed hatch to stifle the hollering and pandemonium rising from beneath it.

Next to the steel hatch was a bucket, steaming with hot tar. The janitor had been using it to seal sections of loose shingle that had been leaking water into the school during every springtime rainstorm. A grubby tar mop leaned against the bucket. The boy shifted his heavy bag and scooped up the mop, wedging it between the handles of the hatch, locking it shut. Then he fled back across the flat roof toward the ghostly concrete statues lining the edge.

The row of saints had stood watch over St. Michael's for as long as anyone alive could remember. Thomas, the doubter; Joseph, the foster father; Anthony, finder of lost things; Jude, devotee to the hopeless; Francis of Assisi, the lover of nature, who had a small concrete bird in his outstretched hand, and a real drip of birdshit on his concrete head. At the center archway of the ledge high above the school's main entrance stood an even larger statue of a warrior angel, St. Michael himself, wings spread and sword raised against the satanic serpent being squashed beneath his foot.

The boy on the roof was named Colin Vickler. Not that it mattered. This was the end. This was good-bye. There was nowhere else to hide.

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.


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