THE GROSTON RULES | Kirkus Reviews

A group of high schoolers deals with mishaps and disasters six months before graduation in this coming-of-age novel.

Isaac Cohen and his six close friends will soon earn their diplomas in Groston, their small New England town. They spend much of their time hanging out and playing games in Dave Rover’s bomb-shelter basement. Anticipating a smooth ride to graduation, they have ready access to Adam Siegal’s medical marijuana. Adam “scored a medical marijuana card after a massive hip injury.” But hurdles await, starting with Adam’s scuffle with a couple of star football players at Ashby Bryson High School. It’s clearly self-defense for Adam, a skilled aikido practitioner, but the fallout adversely affects his admission to Columbia. Isaac, meanwhile, has received neither an acceptance nor a rejection from Harvard. It only gets worse for everyone when calamitous weather forces the seven friends to attend school in another region. They clash with the other students as well as the rather pigheaded principal. But Isaac and company are resilient, and they make the most of their pre-graduation days by livening up a rave and, later, their prom. The friends also work hard on a “big end of the year prank” to send themselves and fellow students off in style. Binder’s vivid characters are certainly not what the title suggests. Isaac narrates, though each one in the group shines, from Charlie Johnson, who grows to despise his nickname, “Fat Charlie,” to Helen Beagle, who relies on a wheelchair but repeatedly proves she’s not helpless. There are occasional hardships, like a loved one’s death, but the story is generally lighthearted and good-natured, with a focus on the prom and a potential romance between Adam and Helen. Dialogue is particularly delightful, as it’s welcome banter between witty and loyal friends. Despite the 2018 setting, these teenagers regularly use outdated slang (“grooved” and “boogied”) and pop-culture references (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn movies).

Immensely likable characters on an enthralling and entertaining journey.
(acknowledgements, author bio, image credits)

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 978-1-940060-42-2

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Light Publications

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2020

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