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THE TRAGIC AGE by Stephen Metcalfe – Review
Feb 7th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

THE TRAGIC AGE21853683

by Stephen Metcalfe – Review

Hardcover, 320 pages

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Links: Goodreads | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository

From Goodreads:

This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work— not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.

Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul.

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is—Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It’s the age he’s at.  The tragic age.

Stephen Metcalfe’s brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.

My Review:

The Tragic Age: A NovelThe Tragic Age: A Novel by Stephen Metcalfe

Includes interesting tidbits of culture, history, movies. Definitely some tragic characters who undergo transformation through privilege. Addresses issues such as death, suicide, sexuality, broken families, bullying.

The Tragic Age follows HS senior Billy as he tries to navigate life after the death of his twin sister. There is a cast of characters who pull him in several different directions: Twom, who pushes against the system of school, bullies, and friends to pave his own way, bringing Billy along for a glorious, but destructive time.

Then there’s Gretchen, a girl who could be Billy’s savior, if he only her were to let her in and kept Twom out.

All around, there are not too many likable adults in this book, and a line that struck me was Billy looking at the adults and thinking that any of them could be him some day. A depressing thought.

This novel will challenge you to think about our educational system, about self-destruction, friendship, redemption, and also how money can buy you out of the worst kinds of problems. This is a social commentary on those who have. Money can buy the life you want, even when you royally screw up. Money certainly can’t buy happiness, though. There are lots of references to the world around us—news, fascinating facts from movies to inventions. This will definitely resonate with people. I personally found these tidbits fascinating and added to Billy’s personality.

As Billy gets a fresh start in life, the question is what happens to all those young adults who don’t get theirs? “Between chaos and change,” Is this a Tragic Age for our youth?

Should we care?

In this novel, maybe as Billy begins again at a NYC college, he’ll find his footing and add something to the world so that it’s not such a “Tragic Age.”

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the review copy.

View all my reviews

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