It is the story of a quiet, unprepossessing teenage boy of 15, and is told in an epistolary style. That means letters. Yeah, but you already knew that, right? He writes his thoughts and story to an anonymous stranger, in whom he feels he can confide because the person doesn’t know him. Although in his letters he certainly does give enough hints and clues that if the recipient cared to, could easily find out who he was.
He comes from a loving family, with an older brother on a football scholarship to a college, and an older sister, a senior in high school. His aunt, his mother’s sister, whom he dearly loved, died in a car accident, and he still mourns her, because she was the only one to give him two presents at Christmas — one for Christmas and one for his birthday which falls on the 24th of December.
In spite of his shyness, he manages to make a couple of friends, all seniors, and falls gentlemanly in love with one of them, a sweet, understanding girl.
Through his friends he discovers sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, alcohol and cigarettes, but manages to keep his balance. Just how precarious that balance is we begin to get hints of as the story goes one.
He is a lovely kid, one whom you might actually like to know and wish lived in your neighborhood, but he has a darker side, and we learn of this little by little.
This YA book was banned in a number of schools for content, but frankly, kids see so much more unpleasantness on TV, movies, and in video games, that I think the people most affected by it were the adults doing the banning. You know, this ain’t your father’s adolescence these days. No, indeedy. we have come to learn that the Norman Rockwell covers were just that — magazine pictures of an idealized life we wish we lived.
Good book. Go read it.