The thing about rereading old books is that it can be very nostalgic in a big way. Rereading this one made me very nostalgic of my early teenage years. Anyone who attended any of the Unity Schools in the mid to late eighties would surely remember this one.
I am unsure of where fiction meets memoir in this book, but my nostalgia apart, it is an incredible little read that has become a classic. A few points that stood out for me this time include how sensitive but stoic Rick Braithwaite, the main character, was in the face of the subtle racism he experienced. His was a classic case of when they go low; he went high. He did not wish away the prejudice that was rampant in his day but refused to sink to their level. This is a poignant lesson in the current clime where political, ethnic and religious differences are becoming valid reasons to dehumanise others.
Also, I do not know to what extent Mr Florian’s character is fictional, but his blend of realism, objectivity and humanity is a refreshing blend. Finally, I liked the way Rick handled Pamela’s infatuation. Young adults at that age are certainly unsure of their emotions, and older adults in positions of authority owe them the responsibility of not taking advantage of their mixed-up feelings. Pamela’s conduct during the parcel presentation at the end of the book is a pointer to this.
All in all, this book was a lovely read that additionally reminds me of a time when I had no responsibilities, and the world was a better place.