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What Really Happened to the Class of '93: Start-ups, Dropouts, and Other Navigations Through an Untidy Decade Hardcover – May 11, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Colin, a former writer and editor for Salon.com, believes that his high school class represents the important societal events that have occurred between 1993 and today. His classmates were unified by a feeling of invincibility. Well before a shadow of terrorism and economic gloom took hold of the country, these students had no limits on their future and could set out to accomplish virtually anything. That's why Colin chose to profile 20 of his classmates from Virginia's Jefferson High School. The public school, located just outside of Washington, D.C, was a specialized school and attracted some of the most gifted students in the area. The author introduces readers to a diverse group of people. There is Karen, the rebellious but ambitious student who abruptly walks out of her LSAT exam and becomes an inner-city teacher; Ryan, who ends up abandoning his dream of being a doctor and practices Buddhism; Lesley, who has faced serious bouts with depression since graduation. Colin allows his classmates to offer observations on one another, and after each profile, he offers more general commentary on his life and that of his classmates. Colin is a skilled writer and makes these profiles of unknown people surprisingly interesting. Unfortunately, Colin's interpretation of his reunion and his friends isn't strong enough to make this compelling social history.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Colin writes of the lives of 16 of his classmates from the Thomas Jefferson School of Science and Technology in Fairfax County, VA, an affluent suburb of Washington, DC. They graduated into an economic bubble, the dot.com expansion, and a seemingly peaceful world where "anything was possible." Their 10th reunion occurred after the bubble burst, the dot.coms failed, and the events of 9/11. Readers meet the homecoming queen who is now a Fair Trade activist, the transgendered Matthew/Anne, and the dedicated pre-law student who now teaches in an inner-city school. One member seemingly on the way to astounding success hung himself; another, suspended for bringing a (broken) pellet gun to school, is a weapons tester for the government; and the unwed mother pregnant in her junior year tells of raising her loving and well-adjusted son. Each profile is preceded by comments from other classmates, and Colin's writing skills make for compelling stories and vivid portraits. While the author sometimes stretches for cosmic meaning, and some of the situations are unique, the intimate glimpses into the lives of these young people will resonate with teens. They will recognize themselves, their friends, and even their enemies, and will benefit from the perspective of a decade of further experience.–Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway; 1st edition (May 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767914791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767914796
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,277,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of the subjects in this book.
I was very sceptical of how Chris Colin would portray me and my classmates in this book - would he write it as a "tell all" dredging up old dirt from over a decade ago? Would Chris make each of us caricatures to better fit into our class label? Or would he distort our comments to him from the numerous interviews?
Chris did none of the above; in fact, he was more accurate and honest than I think any of us thought possible, particularly given that he didn't know many of us that well in high school or in the years since. Without exhuming any skeletons - except for his own - Chris provides an accurate sketch of who we were and an even better portrait of who we have become in the years since high school graduation.
This book is not about what happened to students from one of the nation's leading high schools and how that made each of us a success. No. It is about 16 individuals who took the experiences they had in high school and either embraced them or forsake them as each of us moved into adulthood.
While "What Really Happened to the Class of '93" is of interest to those who were a part of that class, or those who may know us, it really is a book for anyone in high school -- or anyone still trying to exorcize some of the demons from those formative four years -- who wants to know who your classmates are behind the labels they carry.
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Format: Hardcover
I am the first classmate featured in the book (although I am also the ONLY classmate not featured on the cover of the book...). When I read my chapter, I was angry at first. I felt I was portrayed kind of like Shrek (layers, donkey!) the Ogre. Especially when the "redneck weapons designer" was followed by a chapter on "Miss saves-the-world-from-corporate-oppression". But as I read through and eventually re-read the book, I began to see it differently. My ire was replaced by an understanding that all of us changed from what we were in highschool - to an extent. My place ahead of the "coffee bean commando" was a juxtaposition of two passionate individuals who were working to fight the good fight in their own particular (if very different) way. I am who I have become. It can be strange reading about yourself written by someone else.

Honestly, though - I think I would have found the personal stories told in this book to be intriguing even if I were not one of them. What a long, strange trip it's been...
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Format: Hardcover
I didn't go to the high school in this book, and I'm not a '93 graduate either (though close) and yet I read this book cover to cover, almost without stopping.
What kept me going, in part, were the stories of these 16 lives. I'd prepared myself for the usual high school archetypes -- the jock, the homecoming queen, the bully, etc. -- but in Colin's hands, those stereotypes give way to compelling, honest, and intimate portraits. I felt for these people; I couldn't wait to reach the end of the chapter to find out what had happened to them.
But beyond just stories, Colin has managed to paint a true, and -- to me, at least -- uncannily accurate description of how people age, how we change over time. I recognized aspects of myself (for better or for worse!) in many of these stories. It's also a portrait of a decade, but a kind of portrait I haven't seen before: Colin shows how the events of the last decade are reflected in the choices these 16 regular Americans make. Those looking for Big Theories should go elsewhere; this is a much more nuanced and personal take on this time in history than that.
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Format: Hardcover
Hmmm.. where to start. I am one of the people featured in Chris's book and I couldn't disagree more with David Jacob's review (sorry David). While I admit I jumped around chapter to chapter, not reading the book in order, I did not think that Chris exploited us in any way or tried to find artificial themes to tie us all together. Nor did I see this as a book about a group of people who lost hope...
I love this book... and it takes a lot for me to say that because I usually hate what people write about me. Seriously. Journalists always get it wrong, make me sound totally different than I am, or quote me completely out of context. While I think Chris does simplify my views of and experiences with race, how could he not? It's only one chapter... :) And I don't think he was defensive on the issue... just a little nervous because he was trying to, and I believe succeeded in, being honest about an issue that was NOT discussed during our high school years.
Anyway, read this book. There are some really fascinating stories in here... especially ones that wouldn't normally be heard coming out of TJHSST.
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By D. Howard on November 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was interested in reading this book when I heard about it, but ended up being thoroughly disappointed. This book tries to marry a social study/commentary together with what seems to be a memoir, and it doesn't work. Had Chris Colin opted to interview a class of '93 that wasn't his own, it would've worked better. Him knowing his subjects made for awkward scenarios. Also, I felt Colin tried to insert himself and his opinions into the subjects' stories too many times, yet ironically, I still know nothing of him and where he fit into his high school social strata.

Where Colin also fails is where he tries to make larger cultural milestones and tragedies, such as Clinton/Lewinsky, the dot.com boom and 9/11 ham-fistedly fit into how it affected his classmates. With all the alcohol and drug consumption mentioned in this book, I'd be surprised if any of them were sober long enough to care.

I felt it was exploitative at parts, such as mentioning the suicides of two classmates (and acting as if one was more tragic than another) and the story of his Mormon classmate, a guy struggling with depression and feeling like he's not succeeding. I felt Colin was patronizing in his chapter on him.

Also, it was hard to like anyone who was interviewed. Out of all the people in his graduating class, what made these specific people interesting? You have the black woman who seems to distrust white people yet she marries a white man to the white woman who was raised in clueless privilege yet is trying to save the "po' black chilluns" by teaching in one of DC's impoverished neighborhoods. Gag me with a spoon.
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