The Most Dangerous Place On Earth
"In their eighth-grade class photo, Tristan was baby-blond and
roly-poly, squinting into the sun and grinning wide. Calista and
Abigail and Emma posed in tank tops and miniskirts and scribbled on
Chuck Taylors, with bony chests and push-up bras, coltish legs, baby
cheeks. Dave Chu was gawky and lean, in a red polo shirt that hung
like a drop cloth on his narrow shoulders. Nick Brickston's neck was
too large for his torso, and his smile was cluttered with metal.
Elisabeth Avarine almost disappeared: she was a child's flyaway
ponytail, a blurred face avoiding the camera. Damon Flintov was
adorable, chubby under his oversized T-shirt and jeans, eyes big and
innocently blue though he jutted his chin to show toughness. Ryan
Harbinger was cherubic, dark-gold hair tangled, tanned forehead
shining with sweat because he'd recently been playing. It was
shocking, how they all just looked like children."
In Lindsey Lee Johnson's The Most Dangerous Place On Earth,
before the end of this ensemble cast's last year of middle school an
anything but childlike incident happened. Tristan had been the
awkward kid who never fit in with the obnoxious mother always coming
to school on his behalf. One day he made a tragic mistake, sending
Calista an impassioned love letter. Not sure how to respond, Calista
showed it to her friends. Relentless and growing cyberbullying drove
Tristan to taking his life.
Readers rejoin them in their crucial junior year of high
school. They face a lot of pressures. Parents are absent physically
or emotionally or hold unrealistically expectations. When Calista's
mother does not die of cancer life does not go back to normal for
her. An adult teacher coaxes Abigail into having an illicit affair.
Damon returns from rehab into an uncertain future.
They and their relationships have been effected by the tragedy
of their last middle school year. And one of them is going to see her
own life trashed publically and relentlessly just as she's trying to
recover from a debilitating accident.
On a personal note, the last day of March I was going to just stick
around UMaine for coffee hour and bus home. I had promised Silvestre
because, even though I was invited to a bunch of night events, I
didn't have a ride home. Then David decided I should go to
International BINGO. I told him he had to make sure I got home safe.
I surely was glad I stayed. We had a yummy taco bar. I sat with a
friend and her boyfriend. When she won a basket of card games she
gave me the UNO deck. I had a fine evening.
A great big shout out goes out to David, his lovely fiancée, and his
super adorable toddler son, David Junior. To me they are a family
that epitomizes the American dream.
Sent from my iPod