Smart writing and a compelling narrator raise this book above ordinary depictions of high school drama.
After finding his vapid girlfriend going down on another guy, Ezra Faulkner is seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident, leaving him out of the loop with the jock-and-cheerleader set. When senior year begins, he gravitates toward his old friend Toby, no stranger to tragedy himself. Toby and his debate team welcome Ezra to their lunch table when they find out that the prom king is as smart and funny as they are. Schneider takes familiar stereotypes and infuses them with plenty of depth. Here are teens who could easily trade barbs and double-entendres with the characters that fill John Green’s novels. Ezra falls in love with Cassidy, an enigmatic transfer student fascinated by Foucault’s notion of society as panopticon, flash mobs and puns. Ezra is forced to confront his complacency about the direction his life has been taking, but it’s an uneasy passage. The author takes care with the telling of Ezra’s story, allowing time to develop her characters. Narrator Ezra’s point of view is an unusual one, that of an introspective athlete reflecting on events from the slight remove of his first year in college.
Efficient use of language, evocative descriptions and subtle turns of phrase make reading and rereading this novel a delight. (Fiction. 14 & up)