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The Year of the Gopher
George Richards, high-school senior, is angry about his parents’ attempts to run his life. George purposely spurns the Ivy League schools that his father wants for him. On a father/son visit to colleges in the Northeast from their home in Minneapolis, George blows his interviews, and when filling out the applications later, he supplies ridiculous answers which guarantee his rejection. Meanwhile George worries about the academic pressure on his brother in junior high school, fights with his slightly younger sister, and defends one of his best friends whose father is gay to his judgmental mother.
After a bitter fight with his father, George decides not to go to college at all but instead to work. First working in a garden shop and then as a bicycle courier, he learns some valuable lessons, becomes sexually involved with a girl in whom he isn’t really interested, makes peace with his father, and decides to go to college after all. Strong characters and believable action make this dilemma novel readable and thought-provoking. The ending stops short of patness and reaffirms the complexity and pain of coming of age.