Love, Sex and Respect
Jeff Star appears to have found the road to respect at his high school, that is, until he enters the realm of the dating scene. There, the clash between love, sex and respect has even led his heroic buddy, “Cool Steve,” into a deep, dark depression. And when a nearby violent gang repeatedly humiliates the local female teenagers, the guys turn to Steve to lead a war council confrontation. More
In the beginning of the daring final book of “The Cool Steve” trilogy, 1966 has just begun. The Beatles and Stones are at the height of their fame; the Vietnam War is moving from a slow sizzle to a raging boil; and students are considering whether to either peacefully or violently resist being drafted into the quagmire. Meanwhile, tenth grader Jeff Star, seeking to discover the road to respect at Lincoln High, has been taking notes on how his heroic buddy, Cool Steve, manages to get the students to respect him.
When Jeff begins to try out some of Steve’s skills, they seem to be working—that is, until he enters the dating scene. There, Jeff’s self-image of being bold and courageous is shattered as he discovers he cowardly fears asking a girl out.
As for Steve, he puts off any romance until the autumn of his junior year at Lincoln. And then, at first, love comes easily. Good looking and charming, Steve has little trouble getting a date with the lovely Rosy Rosamondo. But then the usual master of cool soon finds himself making demands on his relationship that lead to a heart-wrenching break-up.
While struggling with a deep, dark depression, Steve begins to hear mutterings about a nearby violent gang whose members have been repeatedly forcing their way into teen parties and humiliating the girls. And then, on a beautiful, sunny day at the beach during the early summer of 1967, Steve has a bloody encounter with the gang. His fury explodes, and before long the guys from all of the surrounding neighborhoods choose Steve to lead them into a war council confrontation.
By the spring of 1968, Jeff and Steve are into their senior year at Lincoln and graduation looms. Increasingly, pressure mounts for the boys to either support the Vietnam War or join the antiwar movement.
Both are now stars of their high school baseball team. Participation in an antiwar demonstration can disqualify them from playing in an important game that would jeopardize their team’s chances of finishing in first place.
Jeff has been leaning toward supporting the war because he’s been raised on World War II movies and his cousin is fighting in Vietnam. Steve is completely undecided. Their closest friends, Mysterious Jane, Brainy George and Cliff are on the side of the peace movement. Can their friendships withstand this period of bitter disagreement?
Throughout this illuminating coming of age novel, a tightly woven narrative intertwines humorous exploits and nail-biting suspense while exploring themes of sex, friendship and war. In the end, readers, young and old, discover a profound understanding of the nature of respect.
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