Rating: 4.5 Stars
Sway is a book I went into with no expectations at all, which is probably one of the reasons I loved it as much as I did. It’s a raw, poignant, and sweet book, one I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.
Sway is about Jesse Alderman, a high school senior who specializes in getting things that people want, whether it be fake ids, school assignments, or a date with the head cheerleader. His life is just a series of business transactions, and he never gets emotionally invested in anything. So when Ken, the captain of the football team, asks Jesse to get him a date with Bridget Smalley, it’s just another job to him. Until he falls in love with her.
Jesse is one of the most 3-dimensional characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading about this year. His internal struggle with his way of life and his quiet anguish over his mother’s death a year ago makes for a very rounded character. His growth throughout the book is unlike anything I’ve ever read; Spears has managed to create a character so real that he’s impossible to dislike. The other characters were pretty one-dimensional and stereotypical, with the exception of Pete, Bridget’s brother, who has cerebral palsy and whom Jesse forms an accidental friendship with.
The romance did not have insta-love(thank goodness!), except for a bit on Jesse’s side. It moves slowly, and it’s cute, but I didn’t find myself liking this aspect of this book as much as I did Jesse’s transformation. Bridget, while she is consistently described as a saint and perfect person, was quite shallow and naive, not to mention she would be a saint one chapter and drunk and complaining about the world the next. But don’t get me wrong, although I judged her pretty harshly, she was still a somewhat likable character.
The only issue I had with this book- and it’s a minor issue, in my view- is that I felt that the ends were tied up far too nicely to be realistic. While the rest of the book moved slowly, as things do in real life, I felt like that the end moved too quickly and was wrapped up a tad too well. I mean, literally pages after everything comes crashing down, everything becomes okay and perfect and the book comes to a close. This ending left me a bit unsatisfied, but the complexity of the characters throughout and the other aspects in the rest of the book made up for it by a mile.
So essentially, Sway is a sweet, poignant read that I highly recommend to more a mature audience. The characters, plot, and writing is great, with a very small amount of kinks to work out. Spears has done an excellent job with her debut, and I hope to read more of her works in the future.