Synopses & Reviews
It was in November, a Thursday after swim practice. The thing with Mr. Tracy, Darren's English teacher.
The thing was how Darren would think of it, afterward.
The thing that was vague and not-named.
The thing that hadn't happened, anyway.
Darren Flynn has the perfect life until that day in November.
After that day, after what happened (did it happen?), life is different. Darren is different. Nothing is as it was before. His friends, his family, even the people who are supposed to be in charge are no longer who Darren thought they were. Who can he trust, now?
This compelling, masterfully written novel by acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates explores one teenager's search for identity in a complex, deceiving world, and the answers he finds in the most unexpected places.
"As she did in Freaky Green Eyes, Oates once again explores the link between sexuality and aggression as she delves deep inside a vulnerable 16-year-old's psyche. Structured in short, introspective chapters, the novel unfolds entirely from the third-person point of view of shy high-school swim team member, Darren Flynn, who has suddenly turned handsome, popular and 'sexy.' Darren is taken aback when his usually 'formal' English teacher, Mr. Tracy, acts overly friendly one afternoon, gives Darren a ride home from school and asks the teen to address him by his first name. Darren tells himself that the incident means 'nothing,' but becomes more uneasy when the English teacher gives him a higher grade for the semester than he deserves. Meanwhile, some fellow swimmers who did not fare as well in English hatch a plot against Mr. Tracy that involves fabricating lies about him being a gay child molester. The boys' lies have a snowball effect, threatening Mr. Tracy's career. Rather than delineating the lines between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, Oates uses the uncertain teen's viewpoint to mine the gray area, inviting readers to draw their own conclusions about the events. The author's open ending, in the aftermath of a tragedy, raises thought-provoking questions about whether Darren is a hero or a coward and whether the tragedy has changed his perception of the world. Ages 14-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Full of ethical complexities, this deftly written page-turner offers a sympathetic portrait of a young man devoid of adult guidance, who struggles to come to his own conclusion while sorting through messy, complicated truths." Kirkus Reviews
In this compelling, masterfully written novel by the acclaimed author, a young teen searches for identity in a complex, deceiving world and finds answers in the most unexpected places.
About the Author
Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring works of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde,which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Timesbestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and since 1978 has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2003 she received the Commonwealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature and the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement.