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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 10 years, 9 months ago

20 December 2005 GRAND & HUMBLE by Brent Hartinger, Harper Tempest, January 2006, ISBN: 0-06-056727-9; Libr. ISBN: 0-06-056728-7


"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--

I took the one less travelled by,

and that has made all the difference."

--Robert Frost


GRAND & HUMBLE is the intriguing and surprising tale told in alternating points of view about two young men who attend Roosevelt High School. Both are struggling to survive intense and chronic episodes of internal psychological distress.


Harlan Chesterton is a leader and star swimmer at the school. His father is "United States Senator Lawrence M. Chesterton, Very Big Cheese." His power-wielding mother demands that Harlan regularly contribute to his father's image-building efforts by attending an endless series of local functions and photo-ops.


"The fact is, it wasn't just the characters in The Scarlet Letter who had two faces. Lately, Harlan did too. One face was calm, cool, and collected, always steady, always in control--one of the load-bearing social supports that kept Roosevelt High School from collapsing. That face had been elected student body president by the largest margin in school history.

"But the other face of Harlan Chesterton? Not so confident--in fact, downright fearful. And moody. And easily distracted.

"There was a reason, of course. For the past few weeks, Harlan had been having these occasional premonitions of disaster--visions of what seemed to be the future, usually death. At least they'd started out as occasional. Now he was having them two or more times a day."


Meanwhile, self-proclaimed geek Manny Tucker regularly gets to watch Harlan's perfectly-blond girlfriend, Amber, perform onstage from the darkness of the school theater's control booth where Manny reigns as lighting designer and master of the light board. But Manny has also been struggling to hold it together.


"He wished he'd never told [his best friend] about the nightmares. He'd been having them for weeks now. It hadn't been every night at first, but it was now. It was bad enough that he had to dream them; he didn't want to also have to talk about them."


Why have these two very different Roosevelt High School students--strangers to each other--been stricken with their debilitating psychological conditions? As Harlan and Manny travel toward their inevitable intersection, it seems that of the things they seem to share in common, the one that keeps surfacing is each one's respective connection to the crossroads downtown where Grand & Humble meet.


Richie Partington




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