Saturday, October 1, 2011

Stick by Andrew Smith


Author: Andrew Smith

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

5 out of 5 stars

My name is Stark McClellan.  You can call me Stick if you’d like, because that’s what I am.  A stick of a boy.

…and I’m ugly.
I have only one ear.  I was born that way. 
If you look closely you’ll notice, and then you won’t be able to look away.

But I’m not going to let this stop me.  It never has before.  I drive at night. I blow things up.  I steal cars.  I am going to get my brother back.  He’s always been by my side and I’m not about to let him leave me alone now.

I’m as unremarkable as canned green beans.

I’m Stick, and this is my story.

Fourteen-year-old Stark McClellan, also known as “Stick,” has never really fit in.  Labeled as “deformed,” Stick has had to deal with the bullying and teasing of being born with only one ear his entire life.  Not to mention that his parents smoke, drink, beat Stick and his brother, Bosten, and lock them up for days at a time.  Definitely not what you would call “normal.”

This is all that Stick has ever known.  He’s used to it by now.  However, things are about to change, for better, or for worse.  When Stick’s father finds out that Bosten is gay, his reaction isn’t pretty.  Bosten leaves home to go find a place where he can truly be accepted and escape from their boring town and oppressive parents.  He’s gone without a trace, and Stick knows that he has to find him… before it’s too late.

And so Stick sets off on a journey filled with hope, adventure, and many different kinds of people along the way.  Driven by love, Stick will do everything he can to get Bosten back.  Stick doesn’t know how he will ever be whole again otherwise.  Will Stick be able to find his brother?  Can a mere fourteen-year-old take on so much?  All is revealed in Andrew Smith’s striking book about one boy’s journey to get back what he loves in, Stick!

Stick is on a level all its own.  Subtly beautiful and courageously bold this book is sure to leave any reader in awe.  I couldn’t get Stick’s story out of my mind, and it still hits me in waves.  I tore through Stick in one day, and I’m itching to re-read it.  I received Stick as an advanced reader’s copy from the author, Andrew Smith.  Thank you so much Andrew!*  This book is a must-read for both teens and adults as it will haunt you with its stark writing long after you reach the end.

Andrew Smith’s writing is something I don’t think I will ever be able to get over.  Every time I read one of his books I am shocked by how unique it is.  His writing is blunt and straightforward, yet it also has many hidden folds to it.  Throughout Stick the writing was spaced in a way that I have never seen before.  Since Stick has only one ear, the book was told in a way that showed how Stick hears things.  How things sound to him with only one ear.  Words would be spaced apart or a sentence would end in the middle of a line and continue on the left side of the page.  This mostly took place in areas where there was dialogue, such as when someone would be talking to Stick.  By the end of the book I was absolutely used to reading Andrew Smith’s writing in this fashion, and it made my reading experience so much richer.  Every word and every pause had so much more weight behind it than a string of words jumbled together.

I also really enjoyed how Stick could be labeled as an “issue” book, but I don’t think it really fits into that category.  Stick touched on issues that teens face, and definitely had them dispersed throughout the book, but the story never focused only on the “issues.”  It included them, but it wasn’t only about them.  I feel like Stick was less about homosexuality, abuse, neglect, or deformity, than about living life and surrounding yourself with those who you love and who love you.

I’ve noticed that Andrew Smith tends to use certain phrases in his books that regularly appear throughout the story.  For example, in The Marbury Lens the lines “Freddie Horvath did something to my brain,” and “You haven’t gotten away from anything, Jack,” show up periodically throughout the story.  In Stick phrases such as “I did the math,” and Sitck’s ever-changing motto/catch phrase is interspersed throughout the book as well.  All of these phrases are always presented at just the right moment, to make you feel the greatest amount of impact the line could possibly give.  And it really helps shape the story into what it is.  Whenever I think of Stick, I’ll think of those phrases.

Stick was more than I could have hoped for, and it is a story that I will definitely not forget.  If you enjoyed Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens, then you should definitely try out Stick.  Even though the two are different, there’s a consistency in both that ties them together.  Join Stick, as he journeys to find Bosten, all the while finding himself along the way in, Stick!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

*I received Stick from the author, Andrew Smith.  Stick comes out on October 11, 2011.  Thank you so much to Andrew Smith for providing me with one of his personal ARCs and for signing it as well!

My signed ARC of Stick!  Thanks so much Andrew!

Check out Andrew Smith's website at
Check out Andrew Smith's blog at


  1. Hi T.B. I also love Andrew's books. Stick is one of my very favorites. You certainly did it justice in this excellent review.

    Also, I'm your newest follower, and it's very cool to see my little avatar right there next to Andrew's!

    Oh, and now I have to read your review of the Bartimaeus trilogy, because I love those books too.

  2. What a brilliant review! You're better than most adult book bloggers. I especially liked the way you went into Smith's writing style and decision to repeat certain key phrases. I'm going to have to read this.

  3. Hi T.B.!

    I'm going to check out some more of your reviews. Andrew Smith is one of my favorite writers and your review of Stick really conveys the spirit of the book.
    Your blog is very impressive!

  4. I love the review and now can't wait to read Stick. Thanks, T.B.!

    Also, the OCCBF was great! I was the tall, goofy woman in the purple shirt, helping out. Hope to see you again soon and I am definitely adding your blog to my blog links!

  5. This sounds like an amazing book, especially because of the writing style mentioned. It is so difficult for authors, and consequently bloggers, to capture the complexities of a story and move the plot along without getting stuck, but it seems like Andrew Smith does it beautifully. Needless to say, you write such fantastic reviews. This has me on the edge of my seat and sounds like a read that I would most definitely enjoy. Thank you so much!

  6. WOW I loved the way you described this book and can't wait till I can pick up a copy myself. I'm already very very curious about whether Stick can find his brother and feel like I'm invested in the book although I haven't read a page. Wonderful review!

  7. Do you know I never read issue books? I mean, seriously, NEVER, and you actually made me want to read this one. I know that you said this could or could not be labeled an "issue book," but to a reader who hasn't read it yet (points to self), I probably would've labeled it as just that. But your review made me see beyond that label. Your descriptions, your focus on Stick as a real person and his experiences, made me want to check it out. And frankly, so did the author's sweet personalized note to you. I love it when authors give back to their fans. Great review Tessa!
    Ninja Girl

  8. Wow, I am entirely intrigued by the way you describe Andrew Smith's writing!

  9. Once again Tessa such a great job reviewing a book I've never even heard of! Where do you get your TBR lists? How do you find your books? You've always got some interesting ones that I've never heard of. I read The Goats and loved it!



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