A remarkably intimate—even painfully so—picture of a year in the life of a group of Florida high-school students. Education reporter French (Unanswered Cries, 1991) spent a year in Pinellas County's Largo High School, writing an award- winning series of articles for The St. Petersburg Times. The response from both adult and teenage readers was so positive that French returned to the school to gather additional material for this book by attending classes and social events, hanging out during breaks, and interviewing students, faculty, and families. So revealing is his portrait of teenage life today that one wonders how he did it: How did he persuade these young people to open up to him not only about school, study, and their futures, but also about their home lives, loves, jealousies, intrigues, and uninhibited good times? But open up they did, and their sad, brave, hopeful, and sometimes silly stories are recounted vividly here. Among the students are bright Mike Broome, who's so angry that no one- -teachers, friends, mother, brother—can reach him, and who eventually drops out; John Boyd, whose college football scholarship is threatened when he buys a gun to defend himself against the drug-dealers in his neighborhood and who stops a bullet with his history book; Andrea Taylor, who becomes the first black homecoming queen in Largo's history; and Christine Younskevicius, one of the ``Fearsome Foursome,'' a group of high-profile young women who run the school newspaper, throw darts at a picture of the principal, and take the author on an exuberant scavenger hunt. Here are the algebra tests, the hall passes, the dances and parties—but also the class that has only one student whose parents still live together in a ``traditional'' family; the scramble for high SAT scores; and the striving to earn money, find love, and maintain equilibrium without getting pregnant or doing drugs. An exceptionally revealing—and sympathetic—journey into the isolated, high-pressure world of our teenagers.
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