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    Parker Owens
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

A to Z - 31. Chapter 31: The Universe Shifts

The Universe Shifts

No special warnings for this chapter.

Questions and issues raised in this chapter or any other chapter can be discussed at the A to Z story thread here: http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/40860-a-to-z/

October 20

There’s no pretending that nothing important happened today. In the rest of the world, wars started, laws were passed, volcanoes erupted and so on. And these are important, probably. Here in Blackburn, nothing much is supposed to happen. In this little, narrow world inhabited by one dirty, stupid, runaway kid who happens to be gay – absolutely nothing of importance takes place. Daily survival happens quietly, consistently, and without notice. That's how it's supposed to work.

Instead, the earth moved today. It happened at lunch, in the far corner of the cafeteria, at my very empty table, while I was hiding behind a book after eating the usual school lunch.

Zander, possibly the most beautiful boy on the face of the planet, parked himself across from me. No Kaz or Terry or any of the other people he hangs out with. Just Zander. Himself.

It’s hard to believe now, and it was harder to believe then.

“Hey, Andy,” he greeted me quietly. He seemed unsure of himself. Maybe whatever bothered him the other day still bothered him now. Zander kept his head down, focusing instead on extracting his lunch from a brown paper bag.

“Hi…Zander.”

Why is it that this boy shuts down my brain and my vocal cords?

Zander unwrapped a sandwich, and tore into it, as if he had been starving for days. I knew that feeling. I could relate. On the other hand, his determined eating cut off any conversation, which was probably a good thing. I watched him warily, waiting for trouble to begin.

When he polished off the sandwich, he took a deep breath. For the first time, he looked at me. Then he looked away for a second, but his eyes returned to mine. I stared back, getting ready to bolt, preparing for the storm about to hit.

He seemed to ready himself for something. “Can I ask you for a favor?”

“What is it?” I was all caution.

Zander took a quick breath. “Mr. Karpus needs me to do a figure study. And I wanted to ask if you’d pose and let me draw you. I understand if you don’t want to, but I thought that maybe you’d be willing to do it.”

The words tumbled out of his mouth, all in a rush, like children in a hurry to get out of class before the teacher remembers to assign homework.

He paused. He inhaled again. Now that he’d gotten it out, Zander seemed to relax a little.

What was that he wanted? I couldn't. Not in a million lifetimes. But somehow, I found it impossible to say no.

Half of me wanted to run, and the other half wanted to play for time. “What would I need to do?”

“Starting Tuesday, you’d need to stay after class in the art studio for a few days, so I can do some sketches. Then, when Karpus picks one of them to develop, you’d have to stay again while I work that one up.”

Again, the words hurrying out, nearly falling over themselves in their haste to get into the air between us.

Then the realization of what he was asking dawned. He’d be staying after school. With me. Dangerous. Wonderful. Scary. What if the whole thing goes sour, like things always do? And why was he asking me, of all people? I couldn't do this. No way. I'd have to invent a reason to turn him down. But, God, I wanted to do it. To actually be alone in the same room with him.

Then he was speaking again. Even his voice was beautiful.

“Like I said, I understand if you don’t want to, but…please?”

Again, Zander’s deep brown eyes met mine, hopeful and pleading. It showed clearly in his face. All my carefully thought out reasons to refuse him dissolved. Ignoring all the possible dangers, I couldn’t say no.

“Um. Sure. OK.”

Relief flooded his features, as if his whole being had been holding its breath. He smiled, and the sun came out. My dark corner of the cafeteria lit up with it.

“Thanks,” he said grinning, “you have no idea how much I appreciate this.”

My gut churned and my heart raced.

“No problem.”

At least that's what I thought at the time. Now, sitting here in my library hidey-hole, my heart racing just thinking about spending time after school with Zander, I can't imagine how I'm ever going to control myself around him for so long. What the hell was I thinking?

 

October 25

Life is officially weird now. The world is turned on its head. Yesterday, Terry actually slipped her arm through mine after lab and marched me over to her table in the cafeteria. She turned to me with a dangerous look in her eye.

“You are eating at this table today,” she stated flatly. “Put your backpack down here. You are joining me and my friends. They will love you.”

This was one determined girl. And maybe this time, I didn’t want to contradict her.

“All right.” I complied, meekly setting my pack on a chair.

Terry let out a puzzled, frustrated sigh.

“Andy. You were supposed to put up a fight on this.”

“Sorry,” I said innocently. “Do you want me to go now?”

“No!” she snorted, grabbing my pack. “I’m holding this for ransom. Now go buy your lunch or whatever it is you do, and come back soon.”

By the time I returned with my tray, she had been joined by Kaz and Zander.

“Hey, Andy! Glad you could make it!” Kaz said cheerfully. Zander looked up at me, startled. A pleased look skittered across his face for a moment.

Terry turned and pointed to a chair next to her, opposite Zander. I sat.

“You actually know these two guys?” she asked, wondering.

I nodded. “We’ve met.”

“Andy comes to school way early to work out, even before me and Zander. We met in the showers,” put in Kaz.

I could feel my face burn at that one.

“Andy’s in my Advanced Algebra and art classes,” added Zander, looking at his lunch.

“What, and you never told me?” Terry asked him in disbelief. Or was she asking me?

Zander and I looked at each other for a second. Then he started to laugh, and I smiled. I didn’t really get the joke, but it isn’t possible to frown when Zander smiles.

“I’m sorry,” I offered. “I didn’t mean to spoil it for you.”

“Well,” said Terry a little ruffled, “I’m going to make it official anyway. Andy, this is my boyfriend, Kaz, and this is my other friend Zander, who is sometimes out of his mind.”

“Hey! What do you mean, sometimes?”

And suddenly, just like that, we all relaxed. Even with my anxiety about being with other people, I had fun sitting with them. It was clear that they’d grown up together, that they shared jokes and experiences, and that they were tight. Despite that, they tried to include me, and I felt welcome.

Welcome. Included. A warm feeling spread through me. Is this what it feels like to make friends? Funny, isn’t it? Five days ago, I had none, now I seem to have three.

Then, at the end of the school day today, I sat for Zander’s sketches for the first time, after art class. He came up to me as I started to pack up my stuff at the end of the period.

“Would you mind just working on your drawing right there for a little longer?” he asked.

“Sure. I can do that,” I said, thinking he wasn’t ready to begin.

I got engrossed in my sketches again. I didn’t realize for a few minutes that Zander had gotten out his sketchbook and was working furiously. Maybe he’d gotten an idea. I saw him glance up at me. He smiled sheepishly.

“I’ve already got you in this pose, so I thought I’d finish the rough sketch.”

“So that’s it, then?” I felt disappointed.

“Nope. Sorry. Now I need you to sit over there.” Zander pointed to a chair by the window near his usual worktable.

“How should I sit?” I had no idea how this should be done.

“I don’t really know. Just get comfortable.”

That was a tall order. The chair is one of those old, wooden, straight-backed things, with a flat seat and decades of paint drippings on it. Built for utility, not for ease.

I turned it to face the window and sat. In about five seconds, that got old. After several different shifts of position, I found myself with my feet on the chair, arms wrapped around my knees, eyes on the sky. I was suddenly conscious that Zander was looking at me. Watching me. I was in exactly the position I’d tried to avoid for weeks. Now I was the focus of his attention. What would he see? Would the insecurity I felt show? Eventually, something about the way the clouds appeared to race across my field of vision seemed fascinating, and I forgot to be self-conscious. The sky distracted me from my worry. I stopped fretting about where I was.

I could have held that curled up position for hours. I had done it this summer, waiting out storms, watching the daylight fade over the farm, or just watching the world go by while I rested. Now I was doing it again.

“Hey, Andy, you awake?” Zander’s voice cut into my consciousness. He was putting his stuff away, getting ready to go.

I shook my head to clear it and uncurled.

“You looked like you were a million miles away,” Zander said, smiling.

“Yeah. Just thinking.”

“Must be something really deep.”

“No. Just letting my head get nice and empty. Like usual.”

Zander shook his head at that. “You’re funny, man. Look, I’ve got to go to practice. Thanks a million for today. Can we do this again Thursday?”

Again. We’d be here again, just him and me.

“Okay.”

I can’t wait.

 

October 28

For the past three days, I’ve been allowed to eat with Terry, Zander and Kaz. It’s like they expect me or something, even though other kids come and sit there, too. I've been introduced to some of them, but don't ask me for their names. As long as I sit at one end, and try to keep too many curious eyes from resting on me, I guess I’ll be okay.

Yesterday, I spent another hour after school letting Zander draw me. I tried to get comfortable so I could think about something else. Otherwise, I got very conscious that Zander was looking at me, staring at all my details, drawing everything he could find out about me.

At least, Zander never talks while he works. He’s all concentration. I’m grateful for that. No probing. No questions means no lies. I really don’t want to lie to Zander.

He had me crumple up in a chair; head down, like I was crying. He asked me to stand, leaning against the wall. That was hardest, because I had to concentrate on leaning just so without shifting too much. Last, he had me push a couple of worktables together, so I could lie down, stretched out on top of them. This, I was only too glad to do. Before I knew it, Zander was shaking me awake.

For an instant, I registered that he’d touched me. Then it was gone.

“Andy. Sorry, man. You fell asleep.”

I wasn’t at all sorry. I wish I could have stayed asleep so that he’d have kept his hand on my shoulder. I can still feel it.

I can't believe we've already met for twice for me to pose – that time just flew by. The first time I was really nervous, but this time, I was able to relax. And unlike Terry, Zander didn't question me, or probe for information. He just drew. It makes me wonder if Zander is really dangerous, like I thought earlier. We’re going to meet one more time, next Tuesday. I'd really like it if I was wrong. Well, I guess I'll have to wait and see. Lots of life to lead between now and then.

For example, while the earth may have shaken and all that, school moves on. Surprisingly, without Dad to beat the living shit out of me over anything he felt insulted about, I seem to have pulled off a decent quarter. We’ll see.

Today is the last day of the marking period. From what I can tell, I am passing all my courses. Mrs. Gersheimer just smiled at us when someone asked about grades in class. I've gotten A's on all her tests, so I'm pretty confident there. And what about my other teachers? Mr. Warfield is giving me an A- in English. I think this must be a first for me. History with Mrs. Landon is a mystery, but it can't possibly be lower than a B+. Physics with Mr. Hopewell looks good – maybe a B?

In physics, we changed lab partners. We’re supposed to change every quarter. Terry got paired with a girl I don’t know, and I now do my labs with Dave the drama guy. OK, he’s not so much into drama as he is into the sets, and staging, and lighting and all that. We seem to get along, anyway.

The only course where I have no idea is Art. Mr. Karpus took away my sketchbook this afternoon to look at it. In a matter of seconds, he was back at my desk.

“Where is the rest?” he demanded.

“The rest, sir?”

“Yes. Everything else you’ve done this quarter.”

Shit. Shit, shit, shit. I knew it was too good to last. Something was seriously wrong here. Had I missed assignments? Had I not been working on what he’d asked me to do? Was there some instruction I didn’t understand?

“I gave you my sketchbook, sir. I don’t know…”

“Look, Andrew,” he said, not unkindly, “Your sketchbook has, what, fifty pages in it? And we’ve been in school for forty five days? But the thing is, you’ve got only four pages of work to show me here.”

He produced my sketchbook, and flipped it open. Individual drawings filled the page. Some moderately sized, some tiny, all separate images crowding one another for space. Sketchbooks are expensive. I did my best to crowd my ideas together into the smallest possible area to save on paper. I even used both sides of each sheet.

“I’m sorry. I tried to do what you asked me to…” I was ashamed.

“In about four square inches a day?” Mr. Karpus asked me incredulously. He practically shouted, “What were you thinking?”

I shrank away from him. His eyes flashed. Other students were looking in my direction. Images of an enraged Dad flashed into my mind. Was he going to hit me, here in front of everyone? Panic time.

I couldn’t say anything. Mr. Karpus passed a hand over his face and sighed.

“OK, Andrew, I’m going to go back to my office and look at these with a magnifier. But I want to talk with you after class about this.” He turned and stalked off.

After class, with everyone out of the room, Mr. Karpus sat down at my worktable.

“Listen, Andrew, I’m sorry I spoke sharply to you.”

“No, sir, it was my fault. I was stupid. I should have realized…”

“Andrew.” He interrupted me. I looked up.

“I’m trying to apologize here. I’m not usually a tyrant. I was just, well, surprised. It’s not often I get a collage instead of a series of sketches, you know?”

“It’s OK, sir.” I put my head down again. “You had every right to yell at me. I didn’t follow instructions.”

“Perhaps you could tell me why you drew in such small patches?” Mr. Karpus asked gently.

Truth. I wasn’t going to dodge out of it.

“Sketchbooks are expensive, sir, and I’m short of cash at home. I just don’t want to use mine up too fast.”

He nodded.

“I see. I appreciate your honesty. As it happens, there is something we can do about that.”

I narrowed my eyes. I didn’t like to be admit to being poor. Nobody ever does. I sure didn’t want anyone else to know.

“Of course,” he went on, “you weren’t here for the first weeks of class. Students know that I have a special source for art supplies which can be bought for less than the going rate out at the big box stores. If you order a sketchbook through me, I can get you one for a lot cheaper. Will that do?”

What could I say? I nodded.

“And will you promise me that you’ll do just one sketch per page from now on?” he pressed, the ghost of a smile tugging the corners of his mouth.

Another nod.

“And can you accept my apology for raising my voice to you?”

I nodded again.

“Thank you, Andrew. I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but I am grateful for it. Now get out of here and get on with your real life after school,” he said, smiling again.

I got.

I give thanks for Craftingmom, and for her patient and tactful editing for this and every chapter.

Please do leave a review. Your comments and reflections are enormously welcome.

Copyright © 2016 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments



Andy still thinks his friendship with Zander, Terry and Kaz is conditional on working with Zander in Art class. I wonder when Zander is going to come out to them?

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On 11/26/2015 02:34 AM, Defiance19 said:

Of all the ways I imagined Andy and Zander's first conversation, this was definitely not it. It was brilliant though, because they get to spend time together. Slow and steady.

This just may be my favorite chapter. Andy's making friends, Terry is maybe really cool and just determined. His grades are great, and that has to be a huge bolster. Mr K's apology, and then asking for Andy's forgiveness, that is huge. No wonder the universe shifted!

My favorite line was, "He smiled, and the sun came out. My dark corner of the cafeteria lit up with it." I felt so good for Andy..

This was filled with such goodness. I loved every bit of it..

 

Thank you Parker... Have a very good Thanksgiving!

I'm so glad this was good and unexpected. It was a fun chapter to write, though difficult to hone. This was to show how much our lives change when even a few seemingly small things go right. And a very, very happy Thanksgiving to you, too. PS - there's a chapter for Friday, too!

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A very satisfying holiday gift of a chapter, Parker! Thank you!

 

Andy is being bombarded by situations he is totally unaccustomed to: Kids wanting to be friends, teachers praising his work, a teacher apologizing to him and his secret crush warming to him (in his eyes ...he doesn't know how smitten Zander is). It must be difficult to absorb it all.

 

Now a couple of problems I see ahead. First, Zander has to find another scheme ...hehe. Also, those grades are probably going to be mailed home. I wonder what the lawyer will make of that? At least he'll see is new sons' grades are pretty decent ...haha!

 

I see you have one more in the queue for us. Can't wait!

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Zander sketching Andy in silence is probably the best way to gain his confidence. Andy is getting more comfortable and it's great that he seems to be making friends. I wonder what will happen when his grades get mailed 'home'. It's only a matter of time before something happens to throw a wrench into the world he's built. Your writing is really growing. The descriptions are great and I can really feel Andy and Zander's emotions. Nice job. :)

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Things are going well with Andy and his friends. He has a teacher freak and apologize, and he can get cheap sketchbooks...
What more can you want?
Nice chapter,
tim

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On 11/26/2015 12:49 PM, Mikiesboy said:

Things are going well with Andy and his friends. He has a teacher freak and apologize, and he can get cheap sketchbooks...

What more can you want?

Nice chapter,

tim

This is kind of a bewildering experience for Andy. Making friends is unusual for him, and he's never been actually included in any group. He's been watching, observing the three tight friends - Zander, Terry and Kaz - for almost six weeks now, and they suddenly invite him in. It has to be really exciting and scary, I think. And to have a teacher apologize is utterly beyond him. I suspect Mr. Karpus is a old softie, but I didn't pursue that line...thank you for regrading and engaging with this chapter. I enjoyed writing it, though it was a lot of work to get to where it ended up.

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On 11/26/2015 12:23 PM, Valkyrie said:

Zander sketching Andy in silence is probably the best way to gain his confidence. Andy is getting more comfortable and it's great that he seems to be making friends. I wonder what will happen when his grades get mailed 'home'. It's only a matter of time before something happens to throw a wrench into the world he's built. Your writing is really growing. The descriptions are great and I can really feel Andy and Zander's emotions. Nice job. :)

Andy getting himself sketched was a very hard thing for him to do - harder than he might have expected. Just letting Zander look at him without being able to move or react must have been kind of unnerving. On the other hand, I wonder what It must have felt like for Zander?

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On 11/26/2015 11:43 AM, skinnydragon said:

A very satisfying holiday gift of a chapter, Parker! Thank you!

 

Andy is being bombarded by situations he is totally unaccustomed to: Kids wanting to be friends, teachers praising his work, a teacher apologizing to him and his secret crush warming to him (in his eyes ...he doesn't know how smitten Zander is). It must be difficult to absorb it all.

 

Now a couple of problems I see ahead. First, Zander has to find another scheme ...hehe. Also, those grades are probably going to be mailed home. I wonder what the lawyer will make of that? At least he'll see is new sons' grades are pretty decent ...haha!

 

I see you have one more in the queue for us. Can't wait!

Yes. I hope this is a good gift for all the kind people who have stuck with this story so far, yourself included, of course...Andy and Zander can actually manage a short conversation and sit at the same lunch table. In Andy's world, that's earth shaking. And you're right, of course, Andy has no clue about how Zander feels, and right now, they're both too shy to do anything about it. At least Zander doesn't seem as dangerous as before to Andy. The grades getting sent home...you spied that out. No spoilers, sorry, but it will come up again. :)

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I'm glad Andy is finally catching a break but I keep waiting for when the truth all comes out. I just hope that all the positive steps he has taken in his life help to mitigate the consequences.

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Getting a warm and fuzzy feeling here! Zander is a clever boy, using the sketching to get close to his dream boy. If Andy only knew...

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On 11/26/2015 08:07 PM, Puppilull said:

Getting a warm and fuzzy feeling here! Zander is a clever boy, using the sketching to get close to his dream boy. If Andy only knew...

If Andy knew, it might scare him...or thrill him...or both, very likely. But both boys are pretty shy, so it isn't likely Zander would know how to tell Andy, anyhow. Thank you again for reading and staying with this story. Your reviews mean a great deal to me.

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On 11/26/2015 03:17 PM, avidreadr said:

I'm glad Andy is finally catching a break but I keep waiting for when the truth all comes out. I just hope that all the positive steps he has taken in his life help to mitigate the consequences.

Those dark clouds never quite leave the horizon, do they? Perhaps at this moment, they are easy to ignore, but it won't always be so. What a pity for Andy, that he can never really be free of them. Thank you so much for reading this story and staying with it this far. I appreciate yr reviews!

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On 11/26/2015 02:13 AM, xleroc said:

Andy still thinks his friendship with Zander, Terry and Kaz is conditional on working with Zander in Art class. I wonder when Zander is going to come out to them?

Friendship of any kind is totally unfamiliar for Andy. He didn't know what to make of Toby, at all, and I'm sure this is just as unfamiliar. Interesting question about when Zander comes out to his friends...thanks for your review! Happy Thanksgiving.

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About time their paths have finally crossed, so they are at least communicating in small ways. Sneaky Zander doing the sketch! Interesting times ahead with every thing happening to Andy: Another great chapter to a great story!

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I wish Andy could catch a break already. Since it's thanksgiving today I'm hoping he can experience what probably might be his first real thanksgiving in life! :) He's already had it so tough. I hope the light at the end of the tunnel is coming soon. Thanks for the story Parker!

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On 11/27/2015 02:34 AM, slapshot said:

About time their paths have finally crossed, so they are at least communicating in small ways. Sneaky Zander doing the sketch! Interesting times ahead with every thing happening to Andy: Another great chapter to a great story!

Thank you for your review, and for reading so far into the story. Zander, sneaky? Maybe :). Of course, he just might be looking for a way to talk with the really shy boy he likes. Undoubtedly there is much ahead for the two of them, but as with som many things, it may be the wary Andy who sets the tempo. Thanks again, and hope your holiday was happy!

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On 11/27/2015 03:58 AM, JustALittle said:

I wish Andy could catch a break already. Since it's thanksgiving today I'm hoping he can experience what probably might be his first real thanksgiving in life! :) He's already had it so tough. I hope the light at the end of the tunnel is coming soon. Thanks for the story Parker!

Andy will have a while to wait; after all, his journal is only in October yet. But he's had lots of breaks, at least as he might see it. He has at least one friend, maybe more. He has a warming place to sleep, even if the he floor is hard. Two meals a day. And nobody beats him anymore. It's slow growth, but improvement over even six months before, despite being on his own. Thanks for staying with the story so far, and hope you keep reading.

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A number things are happening for Andy ... he has a core group of friends, good decent kids that like him ... he's doing well in his classes and being recognized for it ... he's eating regularly ... he's clean and while his clothes might not be trendy or stylish he isn't outside the norm for teens ... he hasn't been beaten in months, though he still flinches and expects it. Why is this the case ... because Andy isn't Stephan or even Eric, he's the next evolution, the potential that has always been there is slowly finding expression. He still bears scars both physically and emotionally and likely will for a very long time, he's damaged but not defeated

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On 12/31/2015 10:46 PM, dughlas said:

A number things are happening for Andy ... he has a core group of friends, good decent kids that like him ... he's doing well in his classes and being recognized for it ... he's eating regularly ... he's clean and while his clothes might not be trendy or stylish he isn't outside the norm for teens ... he hasn't been beaten in months, though he still flinches and expects it. Why is this the case ... because Andy isn't Stephan or even Eric, he's the next evolution, the potential that has always been there is slowly finding expression. He still bears scars both physically and emotionally and likely will for a very long time, he's damaged but not defeated

There is some hope in the world for Andy. Now if he can sustain that....thanks for seeing Andy through his many trials and into a better spot. At least for now.

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I am halfway through this novel now and I feel compelled to write a review, but I also feel completely inadequate in trying to do so.

 

How can one review a novel that is so well written, that is a masterpiece of narrative description, that takes the reader on a journey in the footsteps of the main character?

 

From the very first page this is a rollercoaster of emotions, with exceptional insight into the thinking of this youngster, a thinking conditioned by his maltreatment. The poetic decriptions of the countryside through which the boy travels contrast brilliantly with the darker elements he must struggle to overcome.

 

It is without any doubt one of the best novels I have read and I find it almost impossible to put down. A great novel like this leaves you wanting to reach the end although reluctantly, because you don't want it to finish.

 

Brillant, thank you.

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On 07/11/2016 01:19 AM, William King said:

I am halfway through this novel now and I feel compelled to write a review, but I also feel completely inadequate in trying to do so.

 

How can one review a novel that is so well written, that is a masterpiece of narrative description, that takes the reader on a journey in the footsteps of the main character?

 

From the very first page this is a rollercoaster of emotions, with exceptional insight into the thinking of this youngster, a thinking conditioned by his maltreatment. The poetic decriptions of the countryside through which the boy travels contrast brilliantly with the darker elements he must struggle to overcome.

 

It is without any doubt one of the best novels I have read and I find it almost impossible to put down. A great novel like this leaves you wanting to reach the end although reluctantly, because you don't want it to finish.

 

Brillant, thank you.

First of all, let me thank you very deeply for your kind and generous words. As you also know, reaction and reflection from readers helps motivate those of us who post stories and poetry here. Let me also thank you for sticking with Andy's journal through some of his horrible early experiences to wind up at this point. I am very glad you have stayed with him thus far. I know what you mean about not quite wanting to reach the end of a story in which you have invested a great deal of time and energy and interest. One wants to become ongoing friends with the characters, and continue the journey, even when the story has come to its end. I have felt this way about a number of books, both by well-known authors, and by authors with just a few tales here on GA.

 

Another reviewer pointed out that chapter 31 marked a new point, a departure of sorts, in Andy's story. He went on to say it was a long time in coming, and I suppose that is true. I couldn't help feeling then, and still feel now, that many stories hurry the changes and transformations that take place in people's lives. So many such changes are subtle, slow and only recognizable in retrospect. Of course, major events do take place along the way, as this chapter demonstrated.

 

Anyway, thank you for your very, very kind review, which made me blush redder than the monarda blooming in my garden. I am very happy that A to Z has held your interest and that you have enjoyed it thus far.

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Every time I read this chapter I go over the scene with the art teacher a few times. It's so brilliant in all it's tense simplicity and the bewilderment of Andy. I bet Mr. Karpus felt absolutely rotten when Andy shrank away clearly expecting to be hit. And the explanation heaped more guilt on his head. But he rose to the occasion and apologized like a proper gentleman.

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On 12/31/2016 07:36 AM, Timothy M. said:

Every time I read this chapter I go over the scene with the art teacher a few times. It's so brilliant in all it's tense simplicity and the bewilderment of Andy. I bet Mr. Karpus felt absolutely rotten when Andy shrank away clearly expecting to be hit. And the explanation heaped more guilt on his head. But he rose to the occasion and apologized like a proper gentleman.

The art teacher is the kind of humane individual every kid should encounter. Not merely flexible and understanding, but essentially kind, as well as demanding. But you said ...every time...your read this..does this mean you read it more than once?

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I'm so glad that Andy now has 3 friends who are decent hard working teens like himself. I like the way that the art teacher started giving Andy the 3rd degree about not having the proper number of sketches needed at the time they were in school, Andy finally told him that as the sketchbook is an expensive item and things were tight money wise at home so he was using as few pages as possible while still trying to do the work. The teacher explained that 1st off he was sorry that he was hard on him when they were asked to turn their sketchbooks in to let the teacher have the opportunity to give feedback on on the work up to that point and also because he was forgetting that Andy came to the class late and therefore he didn't know that there was a fund available to the students who need it to receive the sketchbooks at a reduced rate if the order is placed through the teacher. Again Andy was starting to cut himself down instead of listening to the teacher about him being a good student only the teacher wouldn't allow him to do that. Andy needs to learn how to accept praise for the good things he does, that way he's not still believing that he's no good and he was just a good for nothing piece of dirt that nobody wants anything to do with. He needs to be able to accept the praise he deserves and that he is a good person who works very hard at what he's doing. Great writing again. 

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