Reviewed: “Sway” by Kat Spears

SwayThe back cover of my ARC copy of SWAY describes it as fresh YA literature about a high school guy who can get anyone to do whatever he wants. All this is true.

And the truth of how it is true leads me to believe that, on this last day of Banned Books Week 2014, this YA novel will likely be challenged by parents across America. And this is truly unfortunate.

The reasons I think it will be challenged are simple; drug use, drug dealing, sex, religious discussions, underage drinking, suicide, bullying… All of these things are covered in SWAY and they’re bound to offend someone. I’m not that someone. I’m a bit removed from high school, but I think it’s safe to say that this is reality and we can’t avoid reality.

Even better is the fact that Kat Spears succeeded in wrapping it all up in an absolutely interesting story. Jesse Alderman is “Sway” – so nicknamed because he can get whatever he wants. He translates this talent into a career, working for a price or a favor to be named later to get what other people want when they don’t know another way. Jesse deals drugs and encourages underage drinking, yes, but he’s an oddly relatable character anyway.

He’s most relatable when dealing with the characters that can best be described as his sidekicks; cerebral palsy sufferer Pete and crotchety old man Mr. Dunkelman. It’s them, the people society might otherwise forget, that make Jesse a deeper character than even he thinks he is.

This book is worth reading simple to see the transformation of Jesse, from a boy so traumatized by life that he deals drugs to a young man who realizes he doesn’t always have to be what he figures he can be at any one moment.

I received a copy of SWAY through the Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for an honest and original review. This review will be cross-posted on Goodreads and my blog.

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