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Drowning of Stephan Jones, The Hardcover – October 1, 1991

4.0 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As in her first novel, The Summer of My German Soldier , Greene tackles the subject of prejudice in a small Southern town as she explores the sentiments of a social outcast who dares to stand up for her beliefs. This book, however, is set in present times and features an older heroine, 16-year-old Carla Wayland. The daughter of a liberal-minded librarian, Carla is disturbed when her all-American boyfriend begins harassing two homosexual men who have recently moved to her community. Blinded by love and fearful of losing Andy's respect, Carla hides her compassion for the victims until Andy's bigotry leads to murder. It is only during the aftermath of tragedy that Carla finds the strength to speak her mind and fight for justice. Besides tracing Carla's moral awakening, this novel brings up a number of social issues, including religious hypocrisy, censorship, gay rights and flaws in the judicial system. Whether or not readers find political statements intrusive, all will be affected by the book's dramatic and graphic portrayal of persecution. The final chapters, in particular, will force young adults to examine their values and rethink the meaning of democracy. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-12-- Gay couple Stephan Jones and Frank Montgomery, antique dealers, escape Boston for a small town in Arkansas, only to face the bigotry of its small-minded, fundamentalist, and ultraconservative population. Carla Wayland, 16, lives with her liberal, librarian mother, and dreams of being part of the "in" crowd; dating handsome, rich, and popular Andy Harris is her wish come true. Although raised to act on her ethical beliefs, Carla finds that her enchantment with Andy draws her as a silent partner into his hate campaign and harassment of the couple. As a direct result of the gay bashing, Stephan dies. Hatred, the power of mob psychology, put-downs of the weak to gain power, and the self-righteousness of self-serving religious groups are themes addressed in this thought-provoking novel. Unaddressed are the psychological abuse of Andy by his father, the absence of support for intellectual freedom and religious tolerance, and the lack of justice in the death of another human being. Stereotypes are rampant and include not only the gay couple but extend to fundamental Christianity, conservatives, liberals, attorneys, and small-town inhabitants. Greene has a polished writing style; powerful scenes of dialogue include strong language and street slang that add immediacy and realism to arguments and taunts. Descriptive passages plod, however, and character development is uneven. Greene has addressed volatile issues, albeit somewhat unrealistically. --Gail Richmond, Point Loma High School, San Diego
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 217 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (October 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553074377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553074376
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,073,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this novel several years ago and often think about it. The story is haunting in how it accurately portrays the nature of prejudice. Hate crimes against gays are common and are currently becoming even more common. Novels like this one might help some young people think about the results of hatred and prejudice. Bette Greene deserves all the praise and awards she has received for her books!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was an excellent book. I read this book years ago, and it opened my eyes to prejudice. I had never really given any thought to problems facing homosexuals when I was younger. After reading this book, I became aware of the fear some people have of gays. I also noticed how people are very uncomfortable with anything that goes against their beliefs or values, and I feel this book was the building block which enabled me to open my eyes to such things.
The main character in the story is Carla Wayland. Carla's mother Judith is the town librarian, and she is basically reviled and looked down upon by the majority of the close-minded townspeople for her "liberal viewpoints". Judith tries to instill in her daughter Carla how important it is to stand up for one's beliefs, but as the book unfolds, we realize how little value Carla places on her mother's teachings.
Although the readers understand Judith is struggling in the small-minded, close-knit town, Carla is going through struggles of her own which are much more "important" in her mind than her mother's. Carla is fighting to fit in at the local high school. Her boyfriend, Andy Harris, embodies everything she wants to be--he is handsome, wealthy, and very popular. Carla, on the other hand, is a newcomer to the town, and her friends count her mother as being a strike against her.
In a nearby town, Stephen Jones and his boyfriend Frank Montgomery are struggling, too. They have moved into the town hoping to make a new life together, and have opened a small shop. However, they are put into fierce conflict with Andy and his macho friends, who are intolerant and afraid of homosexuals. As you can imagine from the novel's title, the story is destined for something horrible to happen--and it does.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Bette Greene has crafted a book that is more than just the story of how prejudice can ruin lives. It speaks to many people when different levels.
It speaks to troubled teens worried about fitting in as well as to GLBTQ people and their tormenters. Carla is forced to balance her beliefs against her feelings for a handsome, popular young man. Deciding that keeping silent is an appropriate compromise, she soon learns the price such compromises can demand. Over the course of several months, she watches as the violence of the attacks against two innocent men increases in intensity. At the same time, she is forced to watch the adults who condone such violence launch an attack against her mother, the town librarian. By the time she decides to speak out, it is too late. Her bid for popularity has prevented her from showing support to her mother and cost one-man his life.
Regrettably, some readers have criticized the characters of Stephan and Frank as being
unrealistic and stereotypical. Specifically, some people think that GLBTQ men who move to roll areas would never act like the characters of Stephan and Frank. This is unfortunate. The fact is that there are people who act exactly this way and who move to roll towns. A quick reading of "A Rose for Charlie" in "Us and Them" by Jim Carnes should give anyone the evidence they need to verify the truth of the characters in question. The characters of Stephan and Frank were drawn from the story of Charlie Howard and his fate at the hands of ignorance and bigotry.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Based on reality, this book deals with the sequence of events that led to the death of one man at the hands of those filled with ignorance and hatred. Perhaps, more appalling is the adults who justify the actions of the teenagers responsible for the death. An event filled with so much contempt and misunderstanding that the author was physically assaulted for even attempting to uncover information necessary to produce the book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Carla is a high school student who has never been very popular. Perhaps part of the reason is that she and her mother live in a very conservative and religious town in Arkansas. Her father left when she was a baby, and her mother is very outspoken about morality and consitutional rights. She is the head librarian at the local library and is constantly getting into fights with the ultra-religious people in town who think many of the library's books should be censored. Her mother's views have often made things difficult for Carla.

Now Carla is in love with Andy, a handsome and popular classmate and the son of the town's hardware store owner. Andy is perfect in Carla's eyes and so is his whole stable church-going family. When he finally asks her out and they become a couple, she couldn't be happier. But Andy has his dark side. When he finds out that there is a gay couple running an antique store nearby, he is furious and begins to harass them every opportunity he gets, going out of his way to deface their store and sending nasty and threatening letters. Carla knows that what he is doing is wrong, but now that she has the popularity and acceptance she's always wanted, will she be able to give it up in order to do the right thing?

I really liked Frank and Stephan. Their relationship wasn't perfect, but they were obviously very loving and devoted to each other. I liked that a gay relationship was portrayed so naturally. I also liked Carla's mom and the reason she gave for being so outspoken all of the time. The ending was excellent, too.

However, I'm not sure if this was a realistic portrayal of an entire town. I found it hard to believe that everyone would be so consumed by hate. The religious people in this book were a bit cliched, too.
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