Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Young Men Shall See

Published in 2012, Young Men Shall See by Scott Thompson is a coming of age story about Gus Ambrose, set in the 1980s in River Falls, Georgia.  Gus is a seventeen-year-old left at home alone while his parents nurture the musical career of his younger brother, Dante, a prodigy.  While his family is away, Gus depends on his group of friends, Ogie, Darwin, Cassady, Yonah, and Elena, for both support and excitement. The boys are members of a group called the S.S.D., the Society of Social Deviants.  Not surprisingly, they get into more than a trifle of trouble as they strive to become more independent.

Young Men Shall See kept my attention throughout, and I finished this short book within a few days.  Because of their age, Gus and his friends grapple with sex and love in an awkward, juvenile manner.  Much of the book's drama stems from the fact that Gus' friend, Ogie, has fallen in love with a beautiful black girl, Kendi, during a time when interracial dating was still quite rare in the South. The book is action-packed, full of youthful adventures and drama.  However, this relates to what I didn't particularly relish about the story: the adventures centered on reckless behaviors depicted in this book, the drinking and driving, and the fighting, which I thought was overly violent and superfluous at times.  I was surprised that Gus was allowed to live by himself for relatively long periods while his parents traveled with Dante; this did not seem like an altogether realistic premise to me.  So, I had some issues with the book.  For the most part, though, I found the book absorbing.  I liked most of the characters in this novel, especially Gus, the protagonist, who consistently tries to do the right thing, and reassures his family that he's fine while they're away by writing them letters, even when he's (secretly) going through much turmoil.  The author manages to capture the intensity and value of friendship at this age, as well as the wildness of many teenagers, in a truthful and engaging way.  This book is certainly not boring!

After reading Young Men Shall See, my curiosity led me to ask the author a few questions, which he graciously answered.

1) Scott, to what extent are the adventures in your story based on your own experiences?

ST: Many of the adventures in the book started with real experiences, but in the book the stories went in the direction the characters took them.  Some of the characters started as real people, but evolved into their own in the book.  The stories in the book evolve too, which is most often different from the original stories. There are some things that I obviously didn't do in real life, but the historical events, situations, and internal conflicts were the same.

2) Do you think the kind of drinking in the book is (still) the norm among teens in the South, as a relief to boredom?

ST: Teens probably drink a lot more now, and not just in the South, but I do think many are more aware of the dangers than in the past.  Underage drinking is about more than just boredom.  A big part of it is simply being irresponsible, and some of it comes from the desire to experience the forbidden, or to overcome inhibitions.  Alcohol is very dangerous when abused, and teenagers and young adults do abuse alcohol often and with zeal.  One solution is for parents to talk to their kids about drinking. They need to tell their kids what went wrong during their experimental years.  Ignoring it, saying "just don't do it," and pretending your kids won't abuse alcohol isn't a solution.  When a teenager dies from drinking and driving it's important to show this to your kids.  Now that I've said this I have to note that some of the best times in my life have involved alcohol.  It's not all bad, especially if it's abused correctly and safely. ;)

3) Because of the fighting and violence in the book, do you think your novel would appeal more to boys than girls?  Is your book for young adults?

ST: It probably appeals more to males, but I've talked to plenty of women who like the book too. There's a part of me that hates that books are marketed to a specific demographic.  I've read books before that were marketed to women that I enjoyed very much.  Several of my favorite books were written by and often for African Americans, but they still touched me, a white man.  I may take something different away from a book than another demographic, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have value for me too.  If anything it helps me to better understand others and hopefully makes me a better person. This book wasn't written for teenagers, and it's definitely not in the YA genre, but most older teenagers are probably find reading the book.  It doesn't hold back, and isn't meant for the easily offended, but I believe it is honest.  Sometimes painfully honest.

Thank you, Scott, for sending me a complimentary copy of your book, and for answering my questions. I think that Young Men Shall See would make a very touching movie (Brother Louie would need to be included on the soundtrack). Your novel is bold and honest, and I look forward to reading more of your books in the future.

As always, comments are welcomed.


  1. In some ways, I suppose this might be considered a fantasy novel for boys!

  2. Interesting, but sadly, not for me...

  3. Hadn't heard of this one previously, and although I see the merits of the book, it probably would not be for me.

  4. i read this book when it came out. i liked it very much. i thought it wouldn't be for me but found i enjoyed it. i'm 62 and fairly conservative but found merit in the story. we were all young once and irresponsible. this shows those times in fiction. there are lessons in this story. a brutally honest lesson about life and learnings of others.

    1. Henri, it's nice to hear a male POV! I do not have many male readers. Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post.

  5. Great interview and it sounds like a good read.

  6. Sounds like a read for those male and female though as Scott says it sounds like it may well appeal more to males. Great questions and answers, thanks to you both.

  7. This does sound interesting, and I really an curious now that the author says that a lot of the characters and events in the book were taken from real life and developed on from there. I don't think I would like all the drunk driving and fighting, but it does indeed sound like a really great read! Awesome review and interview today, Suko!

  8. Young people never cease to amaze me and they seem to act the same no matter where or when! Nice that the author captured it so well in his novel. Enjoyed your review and excellent interview!

  9. What a nice review, and I enjoyed the interview also. It is always nice to kinda see into the authors mind and where they are coming from. At first it didn't appeal to me, but after reading the interview, I will probably end up reading it someday.

  10. This one is right up my alley! Not to mention the name Darwin is my husbands name ha!
    I'll be adding this one to my list.
    Enjoyed the interview too.
    Natalie :0)
    Thanks for stopping by too!

  11. This sounds like an interesting read Suko. Nice interview as well.
    Books that are brutally honest tend to stay with me long after I'm done reading.
    Wonderful review!

  12. Thanks for sharing a great interview and looks like an interesting read :)! I just found your blog & will definitely be following it from now on! I recently started a new book blog if you want to take a look: http://heartisinthewriteplace.blogspot.com/
    Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for visiting! I will definitely stop by your blog.

  13. This book doesn't seem as if it's for me. But thanks for sharing!



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