Jane Two

Actor Sean Patrick Flanery captures the essence and angst of a teenaged boy's life in his first novel, Jane Two. This authentic coming-of-age story is told through the wholly masculine, first-person perspective of Mickey, who looks back at his formative years in Houston, Tex., when he was tucked inside the cocoon of small-town family life, tumultuous schoolyard bullies and friends, and also captivated by first love.

Flanery opens the novel with Mickey on his first day of sixth grade in the 1970s. Mickey is determined to retrieve a pair of sneakers--an "unpatriotic eyesore"--thrown and looped over the flagpole on school grounds. The shoes belong to an enigmatic girl, Jane, who lives in a house behind Mickey's family. A transplant to town, Jane becomes the object of Mickey's affection--and also a muse and catalyst for his ideas, secrets and dreams. The only way for Mickey to express his true feelings is to write and mail letters to Jane, which are regularly returned to him--unopened. Mickey continues to send the notes anyway--they become a way a life, a means of therapy--until he eventually sets off for college and later, to work in California.

When Mickey returns home in the mid-1990s to attend a friend's wedding, he is confronted with Jane--and his insecurities and emotions--all over again. Flanery brings the 1970s to robust life, with Pontiac Firebirds, Converse sneakers and eight-track players blasting Lynyrd Skynyrd, in this tearjerker. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

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