The bestselling, critically acclaimed, award-winning author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace presents a brilliant and transcendent work that closely follows four Los Angeles high school boys with vastly different backgrounds and resources as they apply to college.
Four teenage boys—Tiofilo Cortez, Carlos Rodriguez, Owen Lloyd, and Sam Schwartz—are high school seniors at two very different schools within the city of Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the nation with nearly 700,000 students. Author Jeff Hobbs, writing with heart, sensitivity, and insight, stunningly captures the challenges and triumphs of being a young person confronting the future—both their own and the cultures in which they live—in contemporary America.
Combining complex social issues with the compelling experience of the individual, Hobbs takes us deep inside these boys’ worlds. The foursome includes Tiofilo, a nonchalant skateboarder harboring serious ambitions to attend an elite college despite a father who doesn’t believe in him; Carlos, son of undocumented delivery workers, who aims to follow in his older brother’s footsteps and attend Yale; Owen, ambivalent about high school in general but still yearning to fulfill the expectations of his successful and loving parents; and Sam, devoted member of the academic decathalon team who lives in a tiny cramped apartment with his Chinese mother and Jewish father and cannot wait to have some independence.
Filled with portraits of secondary characters including friends, peers, parents, teachers, and girlfriends, this masterwork of immersive journalism is both intimate and profound and destined to ignite conversations about class, race, expectations, cultural divides, and even the concept of fate. Hobbs’s portrayal of these young men is not only revelatory and relevant, but also moving, eloquent, and indelibly powerful.
Jeff Hobbs graduated with a BA in English language and literature from Yale in 2002, where he was awarded the Willets and Meeker prizes for his writing. He is the author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace and The Tourists. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.