The Changing Season: A Novel. Steven Manchester. The Story Plant. February 2016. 276 pp. ISBN#: 9781611882261.
Billy was a typical Senior in high school, about to graduate, planning to go to college but totally oblivious as to what he was to study or do with the rest of his life. His one obsessive love is his elderly dog, Jimmy, with whom he shares camping and other adventures. Billy and his friends, Charlie and Mark get together frequently in Billy’s smelly, unkempt bedroom to play video games. They are quite content. Charlie and Mark have college plans for the future and are thinking of careers. Billy seems totally out of the loop – at first!
The night of graduation, the key note speaker insists that the students will have to face the responsibility and consequences of their actions and decisions; Billy heard it all as more “blah, blah, blah,” never realizing his world was about to change.
Billy accepts a job as an assistant in a dog shelter which he enjoys due to the help and conversations he has with a mentor there. She’s realistic without being preachy which clears the way for Billy to truly “listen.” On the other hand, Billy’s friend, Charlie, isn’t listening to anyone and he really needs to take advice. In a fit of rage and jealousy, he acts out a rash action which shatters the world of a family. Rather than tell the truth, Charlie buries himself in self-pity and fear. While that happens, Billy finally meets a girl, Vicki, with whom he wholeheartedly falls in love. She changes his world over the summer, but Billy is broken when an act of omission on his part makes Vicki drop him like a hot potato.
One could say more, but this is too amazing a story to ruin by dropping plot snippets. Suffice to say, this is, like all of Steven Manchester’s novels, a terrific read. While there is a somewhat contrived quality to the story, one still roots for the major and minor characters and is always deeply moved by the challenges and outcomes therein. Readers will love and recommend this story of love, loyalty, betrayal and truth!