cover image Paper Covers Rock

Paper Covers Rock

Jenny Hubbard. Delacorte, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-385-74055-5

Following in the tradition of John Knowles's A Separate Peace, this eloquent first novel set in 1982 at an all-male boarding school explores circumstances surrounding the accidental death of a student. Seventeen-year-old Thomas's obituary states that he died "as the result of a swimming accident," but his classmate Alex knows that's not the whole story. He attempts to explain what really happened to Thomas in the pages of his secret journal, yet the more he writes the more complicated the truth becomes. Hubbard leads readers down a twisting path to extract bits of truth from journal entries layered with emotion and warped by deception. A day of reckoning forces Alex to choose between his encouraging English teacher, with whom he is desperately infatuated, and the school's golden boy, Glen. Hubbard has a superb handle on her boarding school setting, as Alex, a gifted writer who's influenced by Melville and the poetry they study, turns his eye on the inextricably entwined forces of honor, loyalty, masculinity, and sexuality that dominate the Birch School, as well as his guilt and search for identity. A powerful, ambitious debut. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. (June)