Publisher's Note:  

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.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by St. Martin's Griffin

The Tragic Age

by Stephen Metcalfe

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Overall Review:  

I received an advance copy of this book, and when I went to log my progress on Good Reads, I was surprised to see that I was one of the only people to have actually read this book yet. This has never happened to me--usually lots of other people have already spewed their opinions and love or hate for a particular book months or even years before I get around to reading it. So when you read this, know I was not swayed one way or another by the opinions of others. This review is my opinion, and mine alone. Are you ready?


Billy Kinsey is a rebel. All of his friends have the latest and greatest cell phones; he doesn't own one. They cause cancer, duh. All of Billy's friends stand up for each other; Billy stays on the sidelines and watches those around him, even if things take a turn for the worst. Maybe this oddness of his stems from the loss of his sister at an early age, or maybe he was just born with a more critical point of view, who knows? Either way, Billy has a hard time fitting in. Even his parents see this side of him. He can be difficult to live with, but they love him as well as they can, while waging a war against each other.


This book was really different, and I didn't expect to like it at all. However, after I read past the first few chapters, I just couldn't pull myself away from this story of friendship, loss, and one boy who is trying to make his way out of an age of tragedy, and into one he can live in sanely. Billy Kinsey is a quirky character who I think both teens and adults could relate to, which is always a bonus in a book. Father/son book club anyone?


Review of an Advance Review Copy

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  7 religious exclamations; 2 mild obscenities; 5 derogatory names; 1 scatological word; 15 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture; 14 F-Word derivatives.


Violence/Gore:  Teens are threatened verbally several times; a fist fight between a group of boys breaks out; a character is mentioned to be hit by a car and injured; a character is mentioned to have died from cancer; a character falls and is injured; breaking and entering is mentioned.


Sex/Nudity:  Minors kiss; minors touch each other is a sexual way; a sex scene between minors is mentioned and briefly described; sex is implied several times; sex is referred to several times between minors; a character confesses to having an affair.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death, personal crises.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Adults drink; adults smoke; drug use is mentioned.

Reviewed By Lydia
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