Ignorance takes a parent from powerful to pitiful in this steady coast through tragic heartbreak and retribution.
Fourteen-year-old Mike is starting high school in a new city after he, his parents, and younger sister, Toby, move eastward from Wisconsin to Virginia. He has a tight circle of outsider friends, a burgeoning artistic talent, an offensive chain-smoking nemesis named Victor, and a crush on a handsome, older classmate named Sean. A French class assignment pairs Sean and Mike together, and the frissons of excitement when he is near comfortable, confident Sean commence with a regularity that thrills Mike. It's incredible and feels good and right. Then why is Sean's father casting suspicious glances? Why does Mike's ultraconservative, religious father want him to play sports so badly? And why does Toby face swift punishment in order to defend Mike from a Baptist, Bible-banging grandmother who calls him “soft”? The first-person narrative is easy, casual, and calm, indicative of Mike, whose quiet perceptiveness can be misconstrued by outsiders as passivity (no speech marks make the dialogue feel direct and intimate). Sean’s race isn’t explicitly identified, but his brown skin offers respite from a snow-white landscape.
A haven of understanding for readers who have felt the foolish hand of ignorance trying to prevent them from knowing, being, and loving who they are. (Fiction. 14-18)