Y. A. Novel: Insect Youth

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“The insect youth are on the wing, / Eager to taste the honied spring.” Thomas Gray.

This coming-of-age novel has as its central metaphor,The Complete Metamorphosis of Butterflies and Moths, that symbolizes the transformation we must all make to become the person we are.

When you hate and love, how do you choose?

It’s 1970, the period of the 1967 Detroit Race Riot and assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an era of deep social change and divide.

Across the Detroit River, in Windsor Ontario, sixteen-year-old Frank Phelan is surprised by love. The beautiful Starr Summers, the newest student in his grade ten graduating class, screams her upset as their arrogant history teacher straps Frank until blood flies from his fingertips. Starr has her own history of blood.

Laura Phelan is not a mother any teacher wants to cross. She confronts Michaels, grinds Frank’s blood-spattered baseball jersey into his face and gets him suspended amid a storm of controversy. The enraged Michaels vows revenge, unaware that Laura’s friend, Gisella Taglio, a former WW2 assassin, has plans of her own for him.

A few weeks later, Frank suspects Starr has been sexually assaulted. After their violent confrontation with his enemy, Dixie, in a deep railway valley, Frank is left unconscious. Starr becomes silent and withdrawn, and refuses to talk about it. But the torn condom wrapper Frank discovers in the old boxcar after they were attacked leaves no doubt in his mind.

Starr refuses to tell her mother and family, more worried about the wounding in the eye of her beloved Jack Russell terrier, Angel, she found abandoned in that same cut. Angel tried to defend her, but Dixie shot her in the left eye with his BB gun. The law will do nothing.

Frank becomes even more angry when he discovers the attack on Starr was planned. Evelyn Flowers, the Prom Queen, wants revenge on Starr when she receives the coveted award for the highest mark in the graduating class. Evelyn becomes even more angry when Frank refuses to become her Prom King, and instead asks Starr to be his date.

When Frank continues to ask questions, Starr breaks off their relationship and then runs away, not to be found. A few nights later, there is a disturbing report of a dim figure jumping from the Ambassador Bridge into the Detroit River. The identity is unconfirmed.

Frank is in deep conflict. He’s the only one who can avenge the girl he loves and bring justice down on Dixie.

Frank slips into the railway valley and climbs “Fatboy”, the wide cement pillar overlooking the punks in their weekly BB gun war. He puts his eye to the telescopic sight of his powerful, Perazzi pellet rifle.

The sun is blistering hot, Fatboy a searing grill and time crawls by on caterpillar feet. At last, Frank has Dixie’s angry face in the crosshairs. Should he take the shot? Step across a thousand lines and never again step back?

“Starr”, he whispers.

In the moment he fires, Frank sees himself reflected in the lens of Dixie’s eye.

But will Frank ever see his first love again?

End

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Novelist

David Floody is a Canadian, Young Adult novelist living and writing in Tofino, British Columbia on the far west coast of Vancouver Island, in breathtaking Clayoquot Sound. His Young Adult novel, THE COLOUR OF PRIDE, is set in 1968, a year after the David witnessed the fires of hatred consume Detroit in a five-day race riot. White fourteen-year-old ballplayer, Frank Phelan, defends and befriends Black teenaged ballplayer, Ellie Fitzgerald, from a brutal racist bully during a crucial game of the 1968 World Series. Frank suffers the worst beating of his life. But his baseball hero, Detroit Tigers player Al Kaline, comes to his and Ellie's rescue. The worst day of his life, becomes the best day of his life, and Kaline gives Frank his own baseball cap with the word "Pride" written on the bill, along with all the Tigers team signatures. _____________ David's forthcoming Young Adult novel, INSECT YOUTH, is a coming-of-age sequel to The Colour of Pride, set two years later. Frank Phelan, now sixteen, discovers first love with the mysteriously beautiful Starr Summers. But when he and Starr aree exploring a deep railway, they have a violent encounter with his enemy, Dixie, and Frank is knocked unconscious. Frank later suspects Starr has been sexually assaulted when she becomes silent and withdrawn, but she will not talk about it. When the law fails him and Starr runs away. Frank is the only one who can deliver justice to the older punk. In that same valley, in the middle of a BB gun war, Frank puts his finger on the trigger of his powerful Perazzi pellet gun with its telescopic sight. Frank has Dixie's face in his crosshairs. If Frank pulls the trigger, he steps across a thousand lines and can never again step back. He whispers Starr's name. "In moment he fires, Frank sees himself reflected in the lens of Dixie's eye."

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