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Seventeen year old TJ adores her best friend, James, who is handsome, witty, and sophisticated, unlike most of the boys in her blue collar town. James and TJ are inseparable until Caspar, the thoughtful football player in their English class, enters the picture. TJ has longed for a real boyfriend, but she's used to thinking of herself as the girl who never gets what she wants. Naturally, she's thrilled when Caspar asks her out. But as their romance unfolds, it jeopardizes her friendship with James, which becomes strained and unpredictable. Tension between them escalates as the bullying of James by other boys in the school leads to violence and TJ is unable to help.
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Peter Marino is an English professor and playwright whose first play has been produced in festivals around the country. He lives with his spouse, G. A. Broadwell, and their two "children" Ofi and Scratchbat(a dog and a bat, but not just any dog and bat) in New York State.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* At 17, Tony Jo (TJ) has never had a boyfriend, and she is sure the reason is that she is “stout and sturdy.” After she bonds with James (Pan), the gorgeous new guy in her small-town high school, she dreams that they will hook up, even after Pan comes out and tells the class that he is gay. And even after she dates Caspar, an interesting, thoughtful football star with whom she has sex, she stays close with her “nonboyfriend,” and the three form a friendship triangle. There is jealousy and tension: who will escort TJ to the prom? And what’s so great about the prom, anyway? Pan is a bit too perfect in every way; but TJ’s first-person narrative expresses her mixed feelings of anger, anxiety, and love with rare honesty and depth. The story is also open about the vicious homophobia among some of Pan’s schoolmates, as well as class differences (she is ashamed to bring wealthy Pan home to her shabby apartment). The messages grow from the story; even the dialogue with adults who give TJ condoms and warn her about STDs and unwanted pregnancies is well integrated. Best of all is the drama of physical attraction and friendship in all its intensity. Grades 9-12. --Hazel Rochman
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