Join the Living Book Club this March as we gear up for spring with the coming-of-age tale "The Tragic Age" from first-time novelist Stephen Metcalfe.
Credit: Bryan Gardner

You can almost touch spring, it's so close to arriving! The long slog through the final weeks of winter is enough to get anyone down, but here in New York, the Living Book Club is taking advantage of these last few days of cozy afternoons by checking a few titles off of our "TBR" list. When we heard that screenwriter Stephen Metcalfe had a new novel coming out this March, we couldn't wait to take it off our queue.

"The Tragic Age" is at once reminiscent of "The Catcher in the Rye" and totally refreshing; a coming-of-age story that explores teen angst without feeling overwrought -- or self-indulgent. I will confess to never being the biggest fan of Holden Caulfield, but Metcalfe's Billy Kinsey feels entirely relatable and heartbreaking.


This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full-time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn't always work-- not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two-ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven't applied to college.

Billy's life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another's mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie's. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by "creative acts of the soul."

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities. 
Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is -- Billy doesn't trust happiness. It's the age he's at: the tragic age.

The publishers of "The Tragic Age" have graciously shared some discussion questions, which you can find here to share with your own book club. Make sure you check back and let us know what you thought!


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