God of Beerby Garret Keizer
High School kids in Salmon Falls are much the same as high school kids anywhere else: bored. In the far reaches of Ira County, Vermont, in the dead of winter, it seems there's nothing to do. But when eighteen-year-old Kyle Nelson and a handful of friends decide to challenge the status quo with an act of civil disobedience, they discover that there's more to
High School kids in Salmon Falls are much the same as high school kids anywhere else: bored. In the far reaches of Ira County, Vermont, in the dead of winter, it seems there's nothing to do. But when eighteen-year-old Kyle Nelson and a handful of friends decide to challenge the status quo with an act of civil disobedience, they discover that there's more to do than they ever bargained for.
Garret Keizer's gripping novel about young men and women desperate for change bears witness to the dangerous force of ideas and the searing power of friendship. Here is a novel that looks truth squarely in the eye, and dares to keep on looking.
Matthew Weaver <%ISBN%>0060294566
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.00(w) x 7.12(h) x 0.96(d)
- Age Range:
- 13 Years
Read an Excerpt
My friend Quaker Oats says that I changed his life simply by answering one of Mr. Whalen's questions in senior social studies class. Maybe I did, and probably I changed my own life also, though at the time I had no idea what my friends and I would be getting into over the next several weeks. To tell you the truth, I had only the foggiest idea that we weren't all going to live forever. If I had anything on my mind that day, it was keeping my eyes off Diana LaValley's incredible legs.
She was sitting in the desk next to mine, all six foot four of her, in a majorly short skirt, stockings, and silver ankle bracelet like the other starters on the girls' basketball team were wearing because today they had a game. The boys' version of the dress-up custom was to put on a tie, maybe with a white shirt and maybe even with the knot pulled tight, which was a lot less trouble than the girls took, not to mention a lot less rousing to the old school spirit.
The thing was, though, that Diana and I had been very close friends, never more, for about seven years, and I was determined not to have her catch me gawking at those amazing legs of hers, legs that made her taller than any student, boy or girl, at Willoughby Union, and its girls' team center, and (along with her equally amazing brain) a likely choice for a full. scholarship at any one of the eight prestigious schools she'd applied to. Diana always said that I was like a brother to her, and although I wouldn't have minded being more, I would never have done anything to make her see me as less.
So I was just sitting there in class with my shoulders sort of hunched and my eyes straight ahead,something like the way you'd look driving a little foreign beater of a car when an eighteen-wheeler goes roaring by on your left side and you brace yourself on the steering wheel and wait for the powerful afterdraft. Who knows-maybe the expression on my face made me look like I would have some great answer when Mr. Whalen began to ask his question.
"Mahatma Gandhi once said" Whalen was big on Mahatma Gandhi "that if God ever came to India, held have to come in the form of bread because that is the only way that the starving masses of peasants would be able to understand him."
Whalen was circling the room like he does when he thinks he has an awesome question on his mind or when he's about to take a break from our thematic unit on "Protest Movements of the Twentieth Century" and stroll down memory lane to his early years as a hippie king.
"Now let's for a moment take God as a given, whether or not there actually is a God, and let's take Gandhi's quote and change India to Ira County," that being the part of northern Vermont where I live, along with a lot of deer, moose, and dairy cows. "Or even Willoughby Union High School."
All of a sudden Diana turned and smiled at me nothing big or sexy but this very kind and steady smile I'd often seen her give to the other girls on her team, especially the younger ones and usually when one of them was stepping up to the foul line. It seemed to say, "Just take your shots, babe, and if they go in, great, and if not, you're great just the same." Looking back now, I wonder if she knew, even before Whalen finished asking his question, that I was the one who was going to answer it.
"So if, according to Gandhi, the only way that God could come to India, the only meaningful way, was as bread, how would God come to ... let's just make it this school. What form would God have to take if he came to Willoughby Union High?"
I glanced across the room to Quaker Oats, who had started leaning into the question the way he does, with his square chin and his big Adam's apple like a couple of bird dogs' noses in pointing stance. I could imagine him running a billion-gigabyte mental scan of every object and person at Willoughby Union that God might become, not counting Quake himself, who in addition to being the most curious individual I've ever met is also one of the most modest. Everybody else was holding back. Class was almost over. The week was almost over too five more periods and Friday would start turning into Friday night. God wasn't on the majority of people's minds, I suspect. More likely some party was.
When Whalen repeated the question, we all knew he'd pounce at the end of it. Best now just to wait.
"If God came to India, held have to come as bread. If God came to Willoughby Union, he'd have to come as what? Kyle."
That was me. Diana looked at me again with that same encouraging smile.
"Beer," I said.
A couple of kids laughed. Diana's smile went a little crooked.
"Beer?" Whalen was saying. "That's what you said, beer?"
"Can you explain yourself?" He perched his butt on the empty desk in front of Diana's row. I gave the little shrug guys give to let everybody know that what they're about to say isn't very important to them. Except, with Diana right beside me, it was important.
"I don't know," I said. "It's what people seem the most into. It's what they talk about all the time."
One of the guys in back called out, "That's 'cause there's nothing else to do around here."
"So beer is our bread?" said Whalen.
God of Beer. Copyright © by Garret Keizer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
GARRET KEIZER is the author of eight critically acclaimed books, including No Place But Here, Getting Schooled, and The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want. A former teacher and current contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine, he lives with his wife, Kathy Keizer, in northeastern Vermont.
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I saw this book on a shelf in a bookstore while walking around with my friends, the only reason i picked it up was because my friend laughed and pointed at the title. After reading the first few pages i thought maybe i might enjoy the book so i sat down in a corner of the bookstore and began reading the book, i sat there for about 2 1/2 hrs when i realized that my friends had left me and the store was closing up. The book drew me into it so much that i hadn't even realized how much time had flew. When i had finally finished the book i was so amazed because i can picture the very same thing that happened in the book taking place in my town. The book takes place in a small vermont town and i live in a very small new hampshire town. this book is a definate MUST READ
My English teacher reccommended this novel to me, and at first, I was hesitant to pick it up. Soon, students in my school who had read it were singing its praises, so naturally, I began to read it. Well, I couldn't put it down. I picked it up around 6 pm one night and finished it at 10:30 the same evening. Keizer uses excellent verbs and descriptions, and really lets you connect with the characters. I found this book incredibly powerful, the fact magnified that I am a senior at a small town Vermont school, and I was able to picture every single scene happening in my town with my friends. I've been reading all my life, and this is the first book that has ever made me cry. A must read.