The Real Question

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Adrian Fogelin
Stressing over grades and college applications Fisher is melting down. What could it hurt to take a couple of days off for a little vacation?

What’s the Story?  Someone should stick a label on high school junior, Fisher Brown: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE. A straight A student with a demanding dad, and SATs and college applications right around the corner, the stress is really getting to him. Struggling to maintain his stratospheric GPA, the only way for Fisher to go is down. This is the story of that trip down, and of Lonny Traynor, the guy who takes him there.

Fisher’s personal odyssey starts with Lonny’s harmless-sounding invitation to take a weekend road trip. Fisher, home alone for a few days, reasons what’s one weekend out of a lifetime of studying? But when days keep being added to that weekend trip, Fisher is in danger of losing everything he worked for.

He quickly learns that when real life asks the questions, the test is strictly pass/fail. And if he fails, he’ll lose it all. Maybe even his life.

Note to readers and parents: I wrote this book with an older audience in mind. It would be great for high school students, maybe late middle-schoolers.

Where did the story idea come from? Like Fisher, I sit at my computer a lot. Most of the time I enjoy it, but hey, no one wants to work all the time. It was during a period of being constantly chained to my desk that I noticed a guy hanging out on the other side of the street. What was he doing? Basically nothing, unless you count singing along with the radio, drinking soda, and napping in the sun as doing something.

It took me a while to realize that the guy was kind of crazy (sometimes he sang at the top of his lungs, sometimes he kicked dogs and spat at people) but by then I had already created the character of Lonny Traynor in my mind. Unlike the real man, Lonny is smart. He just believes in taking it easy. His bottom line is he’s not responsible for anything—he hangs loose.

Fisher Brown, the high school junior who narrates the story, came next. I just asked myself, who would be driven really crazy by a guy hanging out doing nothing? And it came to me: someone who was working so hard he had no time to even get a full night’s sleep. And the story went from there.

What’s real? The world of academic pressure is very real. Many of you probably feel it. If so, it may not surprise you that Fisher, given what he thinks is a free pass to get away from it for a couple of days, takes it. And Fisher’s adventure isn’t a total loss. He comes back with a different take on what matters. Deciding what counts in your life is never a waste of time.