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.
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.