“Brewster” is a coming-of-age story with a lot of grit. It’s a book about teens, but written for adults. It took me awhile to adjust to this; so much YA lit is geared for teens. It’s the story of a town, Brewster, outside NYC and people who live. The story is told by Jon Mosher, but it’s also a lot about Ray Cappicciano, Jon’s best friend.
What makes the story so gritty is that from the beginning the adult Jon, who’s narrating the story, is foreshadowing that something is going to happen. We’re just waiting for it happen. This foreshadowing drove me nuts at first because each chapter started with this heavy hint and it mixed up the time of the narration. It wasn’t always clear whether it was teen Jon or adult Jon who was talking. By the mid-point of the novel this became clearer and the novel flows much better.
The story begins in 1968 and takes us through to the first few years of the 1970s. These were rough times! I’ve always heard the 60s and 70s were turbulent decades but it wasn’t until seeing them through the eyes for teen Jon that I realized what pressure there were kids growing up in these decades. Vietnam is hanging over a lot of them, especially for Jon and Ray as they have to sign up for the draft and as more and more guys don’t come back alive. Then there’s the shadow of WWII hanging over them. Jon’s parents are German Jewish immigrants who barely escaped with their lives. Ray’s dad fought in WWII and based on some of the trophies he collected explains his dark behavior. Then there’s the old-boys club that’s running things and resisting the change that is coming. It makes my high school years seem relatively calm.
This book got me in the feels by the end. I would recommend this. Just be patient with it as it’s a slow burn.