FRESHMAN PETER DAVIDEK only wants to stay out of trouble. His combative best friend Noah Stein only wants to fight back. And their shared crush with the awful home life, Lorelei Paskal, is desperate to make friends -- no matter how many enemies she creates along the way. These three find themselves fighting for survival at St. Michael the Archangel High School, a once-prestigious institution that has become a crumbling dumping ground for delinquents, misfits, and the unlucky.   It's a place where bullying is sanctioned as "fun and games" hazing, where the unwritten rule is you can't hurt anyone who can hurt you back--and there's no one to turn to because the adults are part of the problem. The parish priest is embezzling from the church, the guidance counselor is coming unhinged with rage and regret, and the well-intentioned nun who runs St. Mike's mistakenly thinks compromise and cover-up can fix things.   A coming-of-age tale, a dark comedy, and a tragedy rolled into one, Brutal Youth follows this band of students as they learn whether it's possible to protect yourself without losing who you are.

St. Martin's Griffin 432 pages

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