Grand & Humbleby Brent Hartinger
Two teenage boys, both at a crossroads...
Harlan and Manny are both seventeen years old, but they couldn't be more different. Harlan is an athlete with a beautiful girlfriend, the son of a powerful U.S. Senator, and possibly the most popular kid in his high school. Meanwhile, Manny is a quirky theater geek, the son of a struggling single father, and one of/p>
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Two teenage boys, both at a crossroads...
Harlan and Manny are both seventeen years old, but they couldn't be more different. Harlan is an athlete with a beautiful girlfriend, the son of a powerful U.S. Senator, and possibly the most popular kid in his high school. Meanwhile, Manny is a quirky theater geek, the son of a struggling single father, and one of the school's least popular kids. And yet, Harlan and Manny both share the same sense of foreboding, a feeling that something is not right in each of their lives.
They have something else in common as well, even if they don’t know it. Fourteen years ago, when they were both three years old, a tragedy occurred — an accident that would link the two boys together forever, even as it ultimately drove them apart. It’s an event that both of them barely remember, but it still haunts them in the form of Harlan's premonitions and Manny's nightmares. Somehow both boys know that nothing will ever be right again until they can each unravel the secret of the terrifying instant that lies at the center of both their lives.
An All-New Edition, Rewritten and Revised by the Author!
“An astonishing surprise ending, unlikely to be anticipated but fairly clued for the reader detective. The immensely talented author is a master of structure, but even without the stunt conclusion, the well-realized characters would grip readers of all ages.”
– Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
“Talk about a fork in the road!…[A] taut and clever thriller.”
“This is a taut, skillfully woven psychological thriller with an ending they’ll never see coming; fans of coming age stories and clever plots will be absorbed by this haunting parable.”
“This suspenseful novel also includes genuinely thought-provoking questions about why we are who we are, and how the smallest choices may have the largest consequences.”
“A wonderful story told with a sure and able hand.”
– Crime Spree Magazine
Winner of the Washington State Book Award!
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- Brent Hartinger
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- NOOK Book
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- 883 KB
- Age Range:
- 12 Years
Read an Excerpt
Grand & Humble
By Brent Hartinger
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Brent Hartinger
All right reserved.
Two faces. Two sides to the same person. That's what Harlan's English teacher was getting at. It was so obvious, he couldn't believe everyone else hadn't seen it right from the start. How could they be so blind?
"Harlan?" Mrs. Woodburn said to him from up near the blackboard. "Perhaps you'd like to enlighten the class with your opinion on the subject at hand."
"My opinion?" Harlan said, with the perfect drawl.
"Yes, your opinion."
He grinned. "My opinion is that blue is a really good color on you. It goes with your eyes."
There was a moment's silence, like the instant after you slam the gas pedal, but before the spark plugs fire and the tires squeal out.
Then they squealed. All at once, the class started laughing, just like Harlan had known they would. And Mrs. Woodburn blushed. Harlan had known she'd do that too.
But Mrs. Woodburn was more self-possessed than he'd thought. "Thank you so very much, Harlan," the teacher said, trying to keep her voice even. "I'll keep your opinion in mind when I'm dressing each morning. But I'm wondering if you have an opinion on the subject of The Scarlet Letter."
"Oh," Harlan said. "That subject at hand." The class snickered again, if only at the boldness of his banter.
"Harlan, just answer the question!" Mrs. Woodburn was getting impatient. It was, therefore, time to get serious. The difference between Harlan and the idiots who spent their afternoons in detention was that he always knew not to push things too far.
"Split personality," he said without missing
Mrs. Woodburn hesitated. "What about it?"
"That's my opinion. That's what you're getting at. It's like the characters have two different sides to themselves. Opposite faces."
"Hester, Chillingworth, Dimmesdale," Harlan said. "Pearl too, in a way. They all have public personas that are at odds with their private ones. And the challenge they have in The Scarlet Letter is whether or not they can reconcile the two conflicting natures in their souls. The characters who do -- Hester, Dimmesdale, and Pearl -- find peace. The character who can't -- Chillingworth -- doesn't. According to the author, he shrivels away 'like an uprooted weed that lies wilting in the sun.' "
Mrs. Woodburn stared at him. He'd struck her speechless, and he'd intended that too. Just because he was popular and athletic and good-looking, that didn't mean he wasn't smart. Why was that always so hard for people to remember?
"Thank you, Harlan," Mrs. Woodburn said simply.
Harlan leaned back in his chair and stretched his legs out under his desk. Mrs. Woodburn wouldn't be calling on him again anytime soon.
"Hel-looo?" Harlan's girlfriend, Amber, said as they stood together in the crowded school hallway. "Earth to Harlan."
"What?" he said, eyes suddenly focused on her.
"You're not listening to me, that's what."
"Then what did I just say?"
"You were talking about how you went shopping. At the mall."
Amber glared back at him. "I don't know how you do it."
It's not that hard, Harlan thought. She was always talking about shopping at the mall. Either that or her role as Guinevere in the school production of Camelot.
"You are so slick," Amber went on. "You're a -- what's the word? Rube?"
"Rake," Harlan said. "A rube is a hick. Or maybe you mean 'rogue'?"
"No, I'll go with 'rake.' That sounds right. Rhymes with 'snake.' "
Harlan met her grin for grin. Amber was blond and beautiful, but he was no mere planet orbiting blindly around her. No, he was the center of this solar system, not her.
"It's like what you said to Mrs. Woodburn in English today," Amber said. "How do you get away with stuff like that? That's sexual harassment, you know that?"
"No," Harlan said. "It's only sexual harassment if you're old and fat and bald. I'm seventeen and hunky, so it's just me being charming."
Amber rolled her eyes. "Where do you wanna go for lunch today?"
"What?" Harlan said, suddenly uneasy.
"Lunch?" Amber said. "Off-campus? What we do every single day at noon?"
But Harlan barely heard her. In his mind, he had been transported to a different place and time. The surroundings there were shadowy and indistinct, but one thing was very clear: in that place, Harlan was choking. In his mind's eye he struggled, gagging, trying to cough up whatever was in his throat. It wasn't working; he was suffocating, and no one was helping him. Harlan was experiencing all this, feeling the fear and anxiety of choking, even the bodily sensations -- a sharp, throbbing ache in his throat. But at the same time, he was outside the vision, watching it all from one side, engulfed by the images, as if in an IMAX theater of the mind, but unable to affect the outcome.
The experience was also silent -- completely, eerily silent. Was it a premonition of lunch that afternoon? That part still wasn't clear, but it sure felt like he was seeing the future.
"Harlan?" Amber said.
"What!" he said, jumping. Harlan was a lot of things, but he'd never been jumpy, at least not until these past few weeks.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah," Harlan said, his mouth dry as toast. "I'm fine."
The vision had gone as quickly as it had come. But the effects lingered. Harlan was flushed, his pulse pounding.
The fact is, it wasn't just the characters in The Scarlet Letter who had two faces. Lately, Harlan did too. One face was calm, cool, and collected, always steady, always in control -- one of the load-bearing social supports that kept Roosevelt High School from collapsing. That face had been elected student body president by the largest margin in school history.
But the other face of Harlan Chesterton? Not so confident -- in fact, downright fearful. And moody. And easily distracted.
There was a reason, of course. For the past few weeks, Harlan had been having these occasional premonitions of disaster -- visions of what seemed to be the future, usually of death. At least they'd started out as occasional. Now he was having them two or more times a day.
Excerpted from Grand & Humble by Brent Hartinger Copyright © 2006 by Brent Hartinger. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
BRENT HARTINGER is an author and screenwriter. His first novel, Geography Club, is also a successful stage play and a feature film co-starring Scott Bakula. He has since published twelve more novels, most from major publishers such as HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. As a screenwriter, Brent has four film projects in development or pre-production, including Decked, the animated story behind a deck of playing cards, and The Starfish Scream, a teen drama. In 2005, Brent co-founded the entertainment website AfterElton.com, which was sold to MTV/Viacom in 2006. He currently co-hosts a podcast called Media Carnivores from his home in Seattle, where he lives with his husband, writer Michael Jensen. www.brenthartinger.com
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I'm really glad this Nook book was free cause I would have been pissed if it cost money. The kids in the story are well written, you feel their emotion and you kinda start piecing together a mystery.. but then as it starts wrapping up it even says that the one boy knows the name of the other or knows of him..and then nothing.. NOTHING.. so are they twins? Did they get separated? is the lie the parents told each of them a lie?? Is it an alternate world? Tthe psychic see both and the share friends.. The ending just drops, nothing is explained or finish.. It was a crapfest of an ended enough to make me write a review. Don't waste your time or money on this book