A Boy I Once Knew: What a Teacher Learned from her Student

Algonquin Books
4
Free sample

One morning, a box was delivered to Elizabeth Stone's door. It held ten years of personal diaries and a letter that began "Dear Elizabeth, You must be wondering why I left you my diaries in my will. After all, we have not seen each other in over twenty years . . ."

What followed was a remarkable year in Elizabeth's life as she read Vincent's diaries and began to learn about the high school student she had taught twenty-five years before. A Boy I Once Knew is the story of the man that Vincent had become-and the efforts of his teacher to make some sense of his life.

With his diaries, Vincent becomes a constant presence in her household. She follows his daily life in San Francisco and his travels abroad. She watches him deal with the deaths of friends in the gay community. She judges him. She gets angry with him. She develops affection and compassion for him. In some ways she brings him back to life. And in doing so, she becomes the student, and Vincent the teacher. He forces her to examine her life as well as his. He challenges her feelings and fears about death. He proves to her that relationships between two people can deepen even after one of them is gone.

A Boy I Once Knew is a powerful book about loss, memory, and the ways in which we belong to each other. This is a revealing, moving, and wholly unexpected book.

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About the author

Elizabeth Stone is a teacher and journalist and the author of Black Sheep and Kissing Cousins: How Our Family Stories Shape Us. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey, and teaches writing and literature at the Lincoln Center campus of Fordham University in New York.

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Reviews

3.8
4 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Algonquin Books
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Published on
May 17, 2002
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9781565126879
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Educators
Biography & Autobiography / Women
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Elizabeth Stone
When someone says, at a holiday dinner table, "Oh, those Lawrence cousins lose control all the time," or "the Davises always had more talent than luck," you can be sure there's a lesson being passed along, from one generation to another. Who tells stories to whom and about what is never a random matter. Our family stories have a secret power: they play a unique role in shaping our identity, our sense of our place in the world. The give us values, inspirations, warnings, incentives. We need them. We use them. We keep them. They reverberate throughout our lives, affecting our choices in love, work, friendship, and lifestyle. Elizabeth Stone, whose grandparents came from Italy to Brooklyn, artfully weaves her own family stories among the stories of more than a hundred people of all backgrounds, ages, and regions - clarifying for us predictable types of family legends, providing ways to interpret our own stories and their roles in our lives. She examines stories of birth, death, work, money, romantic adventure - all in the context of the family storytelling ritual. And she shows how stories about our most ancient ancestors may provide answers at milestone moments in our lives, as well as how stories about our newest family members carve out places for them so they will fit into their families, comfortably or otherwise. Upon its initial publication in 1988, Studs Terkel said that the book is "A wholly original approach to an ancient theme: family storytelling and its lasting mark on the individual." Judy Collins noted that "Elizabeth Stone's marvelous book on family myths and fables is irresistible. It lets us in on our own secrets in a provocative and exciting way." And Maggie Scarf wrote, "What a clever topic, and how beautifully Elizabeth Stone has written about it! I recommend Black Sheep and Kissing Cousins for everyone who has ever been raised in a family."
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