Grad Night by Carver Pike

Carver Pike’s Grad Night is a novel I would love to see become a part of the curriculum in college programs for educators all over America.
This book takes us into the final days of the graduating class of DS High, as experienced through a couple of the educators. This is a nightmare vision of a high school. DS High is a place where the vile, underachieving children of mobsters can become class president. A school where students are filmed with cell phones while having sex in the back of an empty classroom. Essentially, if you imagine all the worst stories you’ve heard of juvenile delinquent behavior all across the country and condense it all into one senior class, you’ve got a good handle on the sort of children Charlie, Lauren, and the other teachers are working with.
It’s a difficult thing to remain an idealist under circumstances like these, one who believes in the better angels of human nature, but Charlie manages to do so throughout most of this novel. Having known a lot of high school teachers throughout my life (my mother being one), I have to say that there are plenty of people just like him in the hallways and classrooms across America, actively struggling to avoid becoming cynical and disengaged while being routinely buffeted by criticism and dismissal from students, parents, and administrators. This is not the place for idealists.
DS High is worse than the average high school, putting it mildly, and it’s only been getting more so since James Bender showed up. The worst and most cruel students of the graduating class flock to the silent and sinister boy, whose features are always hidden beneath a hood, and the most awful elements of their natures are amplified with his presence there. Things only seem to be going downhill as numerous students appear to be engrossed in a smutty, violent novel that seemingly appeared out of nowhere, a novel titled The Maddening.
When teachers and other staff are invited to join the soon-to-be-former students at a grad night party, their surprised pleasure rapidly becomes terror as the student body seeks to redress grievances in a way no one could have prepared for.
Avoiding spoilers with this one is a challenge, but it’s necessary as well. You have to experience it for yourself.

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