A while ago I started a recurring post that highlights a male character from a YA novel that is awesome. Just awesome. So far I have done Matt Kruse from the Airborn series, Cash Sterling from ShutOut and Sean Griswold from Sean Griswold's Head. This week Brian Nelson gets the treatment (you can read about my criteria here).
First of all, if you have not read this series correct that ASAP! A few weeks ago one of my 7th grade Language Arts teachers came in looking for some lighter reading (she is mostly an adult book reader, but don't hold it against her, she's a good egg!). I have her Dairy Queen, which she whipped through in a few days. Then she took The Off Season and like me spent most of that book in tears. I haven't heard if she liked Front & Center since she took that book home over the Thanksgiving break, but I bet she did. This series of books is truly about DJ Schwenk. She is the main character and it is all about her growth. However, she wouldn't have gotten near as far without Brian Nelson in her corner.
I will admit that I didn't like Brian Nelson that much when I met him in Dairy Queen, but he really, really, really grows on you over the three books. And part of the reason he grows on you is how much he changes over the course of his relationship with DJ. That's one of the things I love about Brian, he is willing to change for the better for the person he wants to be with--the kind of changes that DJ doesn't ask him to make, but that he recognizes makes him a better and more worthy person for DJ.
The second book, The Off Season, is really all about DJ. And, honestly, Brian doesn't come off too good in that one. He really became DJ's best friend, but let her down one too many times. However, he is still in the front of DJ's mind, she can't stop thinking about him, so we, the readers, can't also.
I think that all of the growing Brian does is what makes him a wonderful YA boy in my book. He recognizes what a jerk he can be and decides he wants to be someone who is worthy of being a friend to DJ. It's not that he changes for her, he changes because of her and he was willing to. It takes a lot for a high school boy to make positive changes in his life like that--especially at a time when most teenagers think they know everything.
The thing is, Brian is not at all perfect, but the whole series I was rooting for him to come around and for he and DJ to be together. And most of the reviews I read say the same thing--as much of a jerk Brian can be, he's also someone worthy for DJ. He really is a good friend to DJ, maybe not the best boyfriend, but a really good friend. He tells her somethings she needs reaffirmed at just the right times.
Once you know DJ, and you know the kind of person she is, you have to realize that if she deems Brian worthy, then he is worthy.