High school senior Andrew Brown seems to have it all – a hot girlfriend, a tight clique, and a ticket punched to college in the fall. Even better, it’s spring break and he’s in Italy on a travel study that promises to be the zenith of underage debauchery he and his friends have been anxiously anticipating for months.
Behind Andrew’s cookie-cutter Balaam High existence, though, is a secret – not a fickle hallway whisper of a superficial crush or an embarrassing hook-up. Not even close. This one has the potential to destroy his best friend, land their art teacher in jail, and irrevocably change the history of one of Long Island’s preeminent Catholic high schools forever.
Whoever said growing up was easy?
REMINDER: These teasers ARE NOT appropriate for children under the age of 13. After that, I leave it to the discretion of parents depending on how overprotective they are.
Prologue – Looking back on the events of the novel, Andrew Brown laments the role he played in the death of his best friend Pete Goodman.
Chapter 1 – Andrew begins to tell the story of his trip to Italy with his closest pals, but the real story is his failing relationship with Pete and the root cause of it – Pete’s affair with their art teacher Ms. Benevo.
Chapter 2 – The scramble is on to plan a toga party while, at the same time, avoiding the chaperons. Working together with Pete, Andrew seems to think things are getting better between them.
Chapter 3 – Andrew, in the midst of a raging toga party, realizes he barely knows his friends, including the immaculate valedictorian/whore Lily Foster, whose mother physically abuses her, and Becky Gillespie, the lower middle class anorexic/bulimic girl he used to copy mythology homework from.
Chapter 4 – Andrew deals with the fallout from the party. As his intolerance for Pete and Ms. Benevo’s dalliance grows malignant inside of him, he rediscovers an old flame he hasn’t spoken to since he broke her heart – Antoinette Gallo, the one that got away.
Chapter 5 – Coming off of some indiscriminate drug that made him hallucinate in the Vatican Museum, Andrew tries to put his world back together inside St. Peter’s Basilica. The conclusion of this chapter not featured in this teaser reveals Andrew’s past with Ms. Benevo: that she abused him before Pete.
Chapter 6 – At a club and surrounded by some of the most beautiful people Andrew has ever seen, he is not thinking about any of them or Pete or even his girlfriend back at home. No, he’s thinking about Antoinette and the first time they were alone in her basement their sophomore year.
Chapter 7 – Andrew, face tattered from the fight at the club the night before and having revealed his feelings to Antoinette, is as happy as he’s been in a long time. He and Antoinette, holding hands and giggling like high school sweethearts, are touring the Trevi Fountain. Everything seems perfect; that is, until Andrew has an altercation with Ms. Benevo.
Chapter 8 – The social boundaries subside as the group of Balaam travelers have a family-style dinner, but Pete and Ms. Benevo are still going stronger than ever.
Chapter 9 – Knowing that Pete and Ms. Benevo are in the room making up for lost time, Andrew leads his friends in to catch the teacher and her student in a compromised position. Now, the secret is out. And Pete and Andrew will never be the same again.
Chapter 10 – Andrew dreams of Pete bleeding out on the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica. Jerking awake and troubled, he remembers the banger he threw junior year that Pete blew off and the consequent fiery fight they had because of it; this is where Pete reveals his new love interest – Ms. Benevo – and breaks Andrew’s heart.
Chapter 11 – Sitting on his balcony in Florence watching a couple whose car has broken down – so amorous – Andrew recalls the night he tried to kill himself after Ms. Benevo was done with him. He is ready to do what he believes he has to do to stop Ms. Benevo. The chapter concludes with Andrew raping her to take back from her everything she has taken from him.
Chapter 12 – As Antoinette and Andrew’s relationship progresses, she begins to pick up on how miserable Pete has been. After Andrew stick his foot in his mouth, she is able to put two and two together to figure out that Pete is mourning the loss of his love Ms. Benevo.
Chapter 13 – At the Duomo, the final stop of their trip, Andrew and his peers are unceremoniously dumped by their tour guide who cannot wait to leave the most uncultured, snotty group she has ever hosted.
Chapter 14 – On his last night in Italy, Andrew remembers walking in on Becky, the anorexic/bulimic girl, passed out on the bathroom floor. He realizes how the old him would have left her there for someone else to deal with, but he genuinely cares about her well-being after only caring about himself for so long. He also comes to see how Ms. Benevo operates, disposing one victim for another.
Chapter 15 – Andrew and Antoinette reach a breaking point later that night when they discuss their relationship and what happens once they return home.
Chapter 16 – With the trip over and graduation having come and gone, Andrew returns to Balaam one last time to listen to his principal’s forced-retirement speech. The scandal is all over the news and Ms. Benevo is in custody, yet Andrew wonders why she never mentioned his name.
Epilogue – Andrew recounts how far he has fallen since he discovered Pete keeled over and dead on a toilet seat in their secret bathroom: hospitalized, a danger to himself, maybe even others. He lived and Pete died – a cross he will bear for the rest of his life – and while it seems like Pete got off easy, he still has Antoinette who gives him a reason to open his eyes each morning.