It’s more than coping, though the same makes up a big portion of this. Sure, half of this is about where he’s going but the other half is where he’s been; a lot of this is how the latter’s shaped (redirected?) the former, so that there are stretches of Evan figuring out who he was, where he is, and why; but there’s the unexpected given ‘new place’ and his past left long ways behind… only that’s not what happens, or not just what happens; because in the meantime, we’ve others’ pasts/presents/futures crossing with his.
On the past: who his mother was/is to his father. On his present: how he is his father’s son, all “economical” but not just that. On the future: Baker, Jim, Tom, etcetera with all their Last Chance Summers. With all that going on, thins could have ended up scattered, yet things tie up anyway, concluding in such a way that’s got me (may be?) hopeful and not just for him…OK, mainly for him.
But me loving the story’s progression toward that ending has me skipping some of its very well-done aspects. Like how refreshing and accurate a depiction “getting better” is given in this one. It isn’t one step forward then another. For him, it’s stepping out of a comfort zone (slowly), then in other instances, getting dragged back into old patterns. Nothing happens in a snap... nothing A. B.C. And that’s great because each moment with him telling the story had me believing that he’s not just some made up kid by in some author’s head. Yes, that’s even with the tragic point at which the story starts… mainly because he wasn’t all tragic all the time.
Which brings me to yet another thing that kept me reading: there’s the fear, anger, and the guilt; there’s also whole thing on responsibility/blame; but there’s the day-to-day regular stuff of “new kid” problems, of strutting your muscles and feeling like a douche in doing so, or thinking others douches in doing so.. The crabby, nitpicky but funny way he lays it out for me to laugh along with. Heck, even the even the ogling and boy-speak was done in a non-douche way; instead both were half-apologetic and half-honest, as in “it is what it is and I do what I do… because.”
But this got heavy and not just for the usual reasons because there’s this new perspective for him, as he contrasts how he was to where he is; as he contemplates over what he and his father were, but more importantly what they could be. And even heavier still, him FINALLY knowing first hand what friends do, and what friends are. It’s different because it’s not limited to what’s obvious. In the telling, his voice is fresh; there’s an accuracy to how things are laid out, not crude (at least not often) but more basic, not flower-y or prettified, just very as is. All those relationships that he allows himself balances out the tragic; there’s angst and jealousy but there’s also the humor and (re) connections made. Basically, things don’t just pivot on that one event.