Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
At the beginning of his junior year at a boys' boarding school, 16-year-old Alex is devastated when he fails to save a drowning friend. When questioned, Alex and his friend Glenn, who was also at the river, begin weaving their web of lies. Plagued by guilt, Alex takes refuge in the library, telling his tale in a journal he hides behind Moby-Dick. Caught in the web with Alex and Glenn is their English teacher, Miss Dovecott, fresh out of Princeton, who suspects there's more to what happened at the river when she perceives guilt in Alex's writing for class. She also sees poetic talent in Alex, which she encourages. As Alex responds to her attention, he discovers his true voice, one that goes against the boarding school bravado that Glenn embraces. When Glenn becomes convinced that Miss Dovecott is out to get them, Alex must choose between them.
I recently found out my library now has e-books so of course I went got some, Paper Covers Rock was one of them. I have been trying to find this book for a while and it was well worth the searching.
Paper Covers Rock is a journal of 16-year-old Alex who is struggling with the death of his best friend. Alex feels responsible for the death of Tomas who hit his head on a submerged rock after jumping from a rock, diving instead of jumping like everyone else. Drinking Vodka and swimming is never going to end well, and this time someone lost their life because of it. All Alex can think of is his last words to Tomas being Paper Scissors Rock, Paper Covers Rock, with him being the first one to jump. The lies that Alex goes along with his friend Glenn end up turning this whole situation in something much worse. When they let Clay take the fall for the drinking when Tomas died by blackmailing him about being gay that is when the web of lies start to place.
Struggling with his grief and guilt, Alex's guilt seeps into his writing in English leading Miss Dovecott to believe that something else happened down at the river the day Tomas died. Alex has been excelling at English, with poetry and writing being an outlet for his guilt. They studied the poet Emily Dickinson, which I also did so I actually knew what they were talking about when it came to Dickinson and her poems. The honour essay written by Alex is the first clue that he is hiding something more.
The structure of the book reminds of a book I read in HSC English called The Fifth Gate there is no middle, it is full of the past on what happened that day combined with everything that has been happening in the present. While I was a fan of the book I read in English, this time around the structure was perfect for this book allowing you to get taken into the novel wanting to know what else happened that day.
The characterisation of Alex allowed you to connect with him and understand what he was going through, even if it hadn't happened to you before. Alex struggled with keeping the "The Plan" that Glenn called, making sure that Miss Dovecott didn't know what had happened before she got the rock the day Tomas died. He struggled for his crush on Miss Dovecott which made him feel even worse when he went along with "The Plan". Alex continues to be confused by what Tomas told him before he died about Glenn and Clay being together in the shower and what homosexuality meant during that era and at an all boys boarding school.
A beautifully written story about a boy struggling with his best friends death, feelings and understanding the sexuality of his friends.