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Stuff for the Teen Age

Highlight from the Stuff for the Teen Age 2010 List: Gentlemen

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Gentlemen by Michael Northrop

Micheal Benton (his parents spelled “Michael” wrong and never got around to fixing the birth certificate) and his friends Tommy, Bones, and Mixer aren’t stupid, but they aren’t the school type:

"Tattawa is a small high school. We call it the Ta-Ta’s or the Tits—another long day at the Tits, we’d say. There are four levels of classes at the Tits, and R is the last one. 10R is tenth grade, remedial. It’s not too hard to grasp. The other students joked like the R was for Retard, but they didn’t joke to the four of us. We’d kill them. And we didn’t think twice about telling them what A stood for."

One morning, the remedial math teacher sends Tommy to the principal’s office, and Tommy doesn’t come back. Later that day, Mr. Haberman, the English teacher, shows up to class with something heavy and suspicious in a barrel. What’s in the barrel? Could the answer be connected to Tommy’s disappearance?

Personally, I am almost always disappointed by mysteries. In a mystery, all this delicious tension builds, and then you find out the answer and it resolves the plot without resolving the tension. Not so in Gentlemen. The tension builds to a boil, and the “answer” isn’t the point. The point is that when everyone’s this frustrated, angry, and sick of being treated badly, something has got to give. And believe me, it does.

Gentlemen appears on the Stuff for the Teen Age 2010 List.

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