Sway was last modified: November 2nd, 2015 by Jenny Sawyer
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Posted on by Jenny Sawyer
Title: The Hired Girl
Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
Title: Bellweather Rhapsody
Author: Kate Racculia
Author: Kat Spears
Genre: Fiction (YA, realistic/humorous)
Year published: 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Length: 320 difficult, but compelling, pages
In Sway, high school senior Jesse Alderman is an operator. A wheeler-dealer. A guy who’s out for himself—no matter what the collateral damage. All that changes, though, when Bridget comes along. Tasked with wooing her for the football team’s biggest jerk, Jesse finds himself oddly captivated by Bridget’s beauty—both inside and out.
What’s a guy like Jesse to do? That “moral” question of sorts beats at the center of this story—with messy, heartbreaking, and often hilarious results. Jesse isn’t an easy character to love, but his trajectory—from closed-off narcissist, to a guy who figures out how to care—is both believable and worth following.
I’m not surprised that reviews of Sway have been wildly split. In fact, I was more than a little turned off by Jesse’s attitude, standard operating procedure (care for no one and exploit those you can), and sharp-edged tongue (there are definitely some lines in this book that made me flinch)…at least in the beginning. That said, I’m a sucker for a redemption story, and this one showed its true colors pretty early on. Yes, Jesse is a tough guy to love, but perhaps love is the thing he needs most of all. (Awwww.)
If that sounds cheesy, let me assure you that there’s nothing syrupy sweet about this book. Yet it is poignant. And without being didactic, it teaches several important lessons. My only tiny struggle with the story—aside from the issues I mentioned above—is that love interest Bridget, while exceedingly likable, feels, at times, like she’s a bit too good to be true. Is there a teenage girl on this planet with a big enough heart not just to put up with the cynical, self-centered antics of a guy like Jesse, but also to see beneath them to the guy he’s hiding from everyone? I wouldn’t count on it. But that’s what makes a book like Sway fun—and, for me at least, such a compelling reading experience. Because if you can suspend disbelief, you’ll find yourself falling both for angelic Bridget and for Jesse—the guy who does have a heart, but who just needs the right person to help him find it.