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.
Seventeen-year-old Billy Kinsey has a low opinion of the world, the result of watching too much television, seeing how wealth has rendered his parents empty and purposeless, and grieving the death of his twin, Dorie, who died when they were 11. Then Twom, a muscly troublemaker, enters the picture. Eventually, Billy, Twom, Twom's girlfriend, and Billy's geeky neighbor start breaking into houses in their affluent San Diego community. They don't steal; they just try on other lives. Around that time, Gretchen, Dorie's onetime best friend, comes back to town. Suddenly Billy has friends and a girlfriend, both of which mess with his negative worldview, but the good (Gretchen) is too good to last, and the bad (breaking and entering) escalates. Billy makes for a mordant, smart, and angry protagonist, but when debut author Metcalfe, a screenwriter and playwright, amps up the melodrama with a car chase, a shooting, and a Grand Guignol ending that dooms some while reawakening Billy, readers may feel some of the cynicism that Billy has shed. Ages 14 up.