EW senior writer Anthony Breznican’s first novel, Brutal Youth, hits shelves and e-readers on June 10. As part of the release, we asked Breznican to write about his teen years and how they inspired his coming-of-age debut.
I never liked to fight. Maybe that’s because I was bad at it.
I didn’t like to get beaten up.
One time while riding the bus home in seventh grade, some guys who were getting bored of picking on me decided I might be a good candidate for one of their younger brothers to pulverize. That kid was three or four years younger than I was — and eager to kick my ass for no good reason. When we came to my street, the whole gang got up and walked off the bus, making a little semi-circle on the street corner. I trudged down the aisle behind them with my head down, then stopped short of the door and sat down in the front seat. The driver looked at me. “I’ll get off at the next stop,” I said. The guys on the street corner whooped and screamed with fury as the door hissed shut and I rolled safely away. (I’m not sure why they didn’t beat me up the next day. Maybe they were really bored.)
If I could find a way to get out of a fight, I would take it. Maybe I was a coward, but I also didn’t like the feeling of hitting another person. When you’ve been on the business end of enough fists, you’re not so quick to make one. I’m sure I said tons of mean and cruel things to other students over the years, which is its own form of bullying. But I never beat anyone up.