A BOY I ONCE KNEW: The Story of a Teacher and Her Student

Elizabeth Stone, Author . Algonquin $19.95 (208p) ISBN 1-56512-315-8

She always knew that she'd write about him; however, Stone couldn't imagine that her former student's life story would be written posthumously. She remembered Vincent as a slight, dark 14-year-old with pointy features and a lock of hair that would not stay out of his solemn brown eyes. They had connected over The Gift of the Magi when Stone taught at Brooklyn, N.Y.'s New Utrecht High School. She recalled that of all of the classes she taught that year, Vincent was the only student with any of the urgent but undefined hungers she remembered having at 14 and, with this common thread, they began a relationship that would transcend the years and the distance that would divide them over time. Vincent died of AIDS 25 years after being a student in Stone's class, and one of his final wishes was to have his diaries shipped from his San Francisco residence to his former teacher's New York home. This book is the fruit of Stone's (and, indirectly, Vincent's) efforts. Though at times morbid, it does tell a poignant story of two people who learned to deal with life's difficulties. Stone tackled the mighty task of turning the journals into a book, adding much about her own life and the lessons she learned from her former student in the process. After Vincent's death, Stone faced the death of her own father and grandmother; Vincent's uplifting approach to life provided solace. Stone sensitively leads readers through Vincent's last days, reminding them that even in the face of impending doom, innocence can thrive. (May)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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