“Powerful.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air
Named a best book of the year by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, and BookPage
David Federman has never felt appreciated. An academically gifted yet painfully forgettable member of his New Jersey high school class, the withdrawn, mild-mannered freshman arrives at Harvard fully expecting to be embraced by a new tribe of high-achieving peers. Initially, however, his social prospects seem unlikely to change, sentencing him to a lifetime of anonymity.
Then he meets Veronica Morgan Wells. Struck by her beauty, wit, and sophisticated Manhattan upbringing, David becomes instantly infatuated. Determined to win her attention and an invite into her glamorous world, he begins compromising his moral standards for this one, great shot at happiness. But both Veronica and David, it turns out, are not exactly as they seem.
Loner turns the traditional campus novel on its head as it explores ambition, class, and gender politics. It is a stunning and timely literary achievement from one of the rising stars of American fiction.
Wayne's third novel (after The Love Song of Jonny Valentine) is about a Harvard freshman who becomes obsessed with his attractive classmate. David is an intelligent yet largely unremarkable kid from New Jersey, who upon beginning his first college semester, finds himself in the all too familiar situation of being lumped into the second tier socially. But when he spies the pretty Veronica during orientation, he's not just smitten; he's determined at the cost of everything else in his life to catch her eye: "This was going to be the best year of my life, a Technicolor romp after so many donnish slogs." David begins dating Veronica's roommate, Sara, solely to be close to and to spy on Veronica, and by following her around he manages to enroll in her English class, where one day she asks him for help on an essay on the voyeuristic themes of Henry James's Daisy Miller. David's efforts and manipulations to get Veronica to notice his devotion grow increasingly discomforting to the reader, a credit to the sly first-person narration. We know something very bad is going to happen, and though some may guess the reveal, the reader is nonetheless compelled to frantically turn the pages.
Wayne has a wonderful grip of language and turn of phrase, strikingly so in the first half of the book, one of the few modern fiction writers I have read to do so. And yet the book reads easily, and the reader becomes aware of David’s mania as the book continues. The dénouement in the last two chapters is a true surprise, which makes the ending very interesting. I truly enjoyed this book.
To the other b who commented
Thanks for the spoiler warning !