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4.3 6
by Jeremy Iversen

21 drinks + 21 years ÷ 24 hours =

A New Life Plan

It's tradition in the PAK fraternity that you have to down 21 drinks on your 21st birthday. Bret's big b-day happens to be on the night of PAK's biggest blowout ever. The college is threatening to shut down their house. But the guys won't let that happen until they party


21 drinks + 21 years ÷ 24 hours =

A New Life Plan

It's tradition in the PAK fraternity that you have to down 21 drinks on your 21st birthday. Bret's big b-day happens to be on the night of PAK's biggest blowout ever. The college is threatening to shut down their house. But the guys won't let that happen until they party like rock stars one last time.

No one sleeps until the kegs are kicked, the hot girls get hot-tubbed, the PAKs mess up some dude from Fiji, and Bret does his 21. But somewhere between the beer bong and the shot of Captain Morgan, Bret begins to wonder how he came to this school. And what he really wants out of life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Iversen's debut novel has a familiar-sounding setup: Bret Stanton seems like a typical fraternity guy, with his good looks and party lifestyle, but through flashbacks readers see a misfit kid who was willing to sacrifice everything to fit in. Bret is turning 21 the same night as his fraternity's big party, and he is determined to live up to the Pi Alpha Kappa (PAK) "tradition" of drinking 21 "units of alcohol" in one night. But as the evening wears on and Bret gets progressively drunker, events start to spin out of control: he has sex with a random freshman girl, evades police when a prank goes wrong and stands by as his PAK pledges kick and humiliate a rival who later requires hospitalization. As night becomes morning, he tries to break out of the shell he's created for himself, but it may be too late. The exchanges between the characters have an empty, but realistic ring (a girl at the party complains that she got fired from Pacific Outfitters for having "bad PPT" or "pants per transaction"), and readers will be shocked by the depth of callousness in the world that Bret has chosen to embrace-from the colored beer cups his brothers use to rank partygoers, to a horrific rape, to betraying their friends. The plot takes some creative turns, but frequent flashbacks derail the momentum, and some readers may ultimately be turned off by the author's heavy touches, especially the over-the-top finale. Ages 16-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Universities seem to be taking an interest in putting a stop to drinking excesses on campus, but not fast enough. As this tale opens, the college is about to close Pi Alpha Kappa (PAK) down but the good old frat boys want to bring down the house with one final alcoholic bomb of a night, and the perfect excuse is Bret's 21st birthday. One of the fraternity's lame traditions is that a brother has to down 21 units of liquor on his 21st birthday. Yahoo! Apparently, the author, a college-aged writer, is telling this tale based on firsthand experience. In this debut novel he tells a frightening story that should make parents, school officials, and students take notice. The hero, Brett, takes stock of his life as he swims through the frat drinking tradition, and he finds that things are coming up rather soggy. The novel is humorous and provocative and though some may argue otherwise, young people should read it. There's sex and violence and drinking—but high schoolers and college kids are aware of all this (sometimes more aware than parents would like to think about)—and a read that makes kids think about the world they are in and perhaps make better decisions regarding their behavior is worth the risk. KLIATT Codes: A—Recommended for advanced students and adults. 2005, Simon & Schuster, 261p., Ages 17 to adult.
—Joseph DeMarco
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Bret's 21st birthday coincides with the night of his fraternity's biggest bash of the year. The tradition is for members to do a celebratory 21 shots. Through a series of flashbacks, Bret tries to make sense of his present life, the choices he has made, and the choices made for him. A nocturnal trek takes him from his fraternity house across campus and back to the house, which brings him full circle both physically and spiritually. This book is peppered with explicit language, drinking, and sex. However, readers are given realistic and sometimes moving insight into one young man's spiritual soul searching. Even though the setting is a college in California, the message is universal.-Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sparse, artsy language illustrates partier Bret's 21st birthday. Fraternity tradition requires that Bret celebrate with 21 drinks. Popular and wealthy Bret is unhappy, and heavily segued flashbacks explain: He's at loose ends academically and his business-focused parents don't care about him. Alas, though at heart he's intellectual (a genius astronomer despite his seven-year neglect of scholarship) and a nice guy who volunteers in the projects, Bret's chosen a path of jackass debauchery in order to be liked. He drinks constantly, treats girls as interchangeable sex objects and supervises the near-fatal beating of a rival fraternity's pledge. Between drinks, he roams campus, musing faux-poetically on his wasted life and orbiting the observatory that represents his losses. Though Bret's on the verge of redemption, he falls tragically victim to the inexcusably dangerous Greek system. There ought to be irony in the contrast between the flowing imagery of Bret's stream of consciousness, the spare dialogue (oddly lacking question marks) and the hyped-up excitement of a fraternity of alcoholics. Instead, there's only choppy prose for a disaffected protagonist. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.04(w) x 6.96(h) x 0.73(d)
Age Range:
16 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Jeremy Iversen recently graduated from Stanford, where he served as vice-president of Delta Tau Delta fraternity and rush chair for the entire university. After a stint as a runway model, he spent six months undercover in high school, pretending to be a 17-year-old surfer, and wrote about the once-in-a-lifetime experience in his bestselling book High School Confidential. He is currently pursuing a career in acting, and lives in Los Angeles. Visit him online at www.JeremyIversen.com

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21 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is terribly written. In some places it sounds as if it was written by, or is aimed at, middle-school children. It includes such winning passages as: 'They used to have a dog but it died. It spent hours chasing its tail and wore a bandanna around its neck. When it died, the guys who liked it were sad.' (34) Wow! How poignant and relevant to the typical college student! I could go through the entire book and pick an example like that from each page. If you are looking for a well-written college book try Donna Tartt's 'The Secret History,' or at the very least Tom Perrotta's 'Joe College.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I hear terms like 'the Catcher in the Rye of Generation Y' being thrown around, I become, shall we say, skeptical. I needed to check this one out myself. I found 21 in the adult section. I guess no one knows if this is a book for kids or adults--I would say it's probably best for college people, whatever they count as nowadays. Long story short, I was entranced. I bought it. It's an absolutely fascinating book. It contains its fair share of lesbians, ghetto fights, drug use, casual sex, and whatnot, but all the sex and violence integrates into a truly beautiful, captivating, and moving story. I finished blinking, in a cathartic daze, feeling as though I had been a part of the most incredible experience. On a rare occasion, I suppose, you can have faith in 'the buzz.' Bravo.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am proud to say I have now re-read 21 no fewer than five times and I am still discovering so much more about it! So much of it is an incredible mystery that had me hunting through the library to learn about the ancient religion of Gnosticism, the secrets of alchemy, and solving who Bret really is and what happened to him. Oh my God this novel is deep! I read it once and I had some questions and now I read it five times and I am in awe...!!! This is such a well-crafted book, my prof was talking about Bloom and hidden meanings the whole time. . .
Guest More than 1 year ago
The 21st birthday drinking ritual suddenly seems to be everywhere. I counted a spot on the Today show and an article in the New York Times just this week alone. Could a novel be far behind? Apparently not, and we're the better for this mature and deeply absorbing treatment of a very hotbutton issue. Rarely has a book so in tune with the spirit of the times been such a fun and captivating read. At shades humorous and provocative, then dreamy and thoughtful, and ultimately very powerful, 21 is an entertainment event in all senses of the term. Whether or not one thinks that youth should be able to read it, they seem to be living it regardless. (***** -- R. Polanski)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm in college, and in the past month I read both this book and Wolfe's Charlotte Simmons. This one costs less, is a whole lot more fun to read, and is about 900 times more accurate. If anyone wants to know what college is actually like, buy this one. I'm not in a sorority, but I have a lot of friends who are, and it is basicaly their lives. The story is mind blowing, I have reread it twice and continue to discover more each time. Two thumbs up and a big reccomendation for 21. :-)