Its the inner world that Slouka is concerned with here anyway. It's the past, not the present, that has a enormous affect on these lives.
Jon Mosher has always felt like an outsider in his town because of his parents’ roots as German-Jewish émigrés and the accidental death of his older brother. The death of his brother has destroyed his family and especially his mother, who like the mother in ORDINARY PEOPLE seems to hold him responsible for being the one who survived. Spending your life dodging your mother's disdain for you takes its toll.
He begins to run track on his high-school team and becomes friends with Frank Krapinski, a Christian and talented athlete; volatile Ray Cappiciano, who comes to school bearing the bruises of constant fistfights; and Karen Dorsey, who falls for Ray.
Ray’s alcoholic father, a WWII veteran possessed of a raging temper takes an interest in Jon. And Jon's damaged mother has a fondness for Ray, confounding both boys.
The four teens bond in their desire to leave their damaged lives and working class town behind. It is only gradually they see that you can never leave the past behind. This book is especially about the solace, the support, and the gift of friendship and loyalty among teens who feel they are powerless.
This was a hard book to read in many ways and it is certainly more noir than more books touted as noir. But every moment felt real. Highly recommended.