Loner by Teddy Wayne
Published by Simon & Schuster ISBN 9781501107894
Hardcover, $26, 202 pages
A friend whose taste in books I truly respect told me I must read Teddy Wayne's Loner. So of course I did.
Told from the perspective of 18-year-old David Federman, an intelligent, but socially inexperienced, freshman just starting at Harvard. David wasn't popular at his middle class New Jersey high school and was looking forward to being with people he had something in common with at the prestigious university.
He hangs out with a group of people who were much like he was in high school- on the fringes, not the cool kids. Then David meets Veronica, a self possessed, beautiful young woman from a wealthy Manhattan family.
David makes it his goal to date Veronica. He decides that to get closer to her, he would date her roommate Sara, part of his group of friends. Sara is sweet, smart and hardworking, and close to her family.
Veronica seems to be the kind of girl who gets by on her looks, but how she got into Harvard seems to be a question in my mind. She gets David to write a term paper for her, and it appears that she is using David, but he believes she will come to see him for the great man he is.
As the story progresses, David's obsession with Veronica grows and you get a sinking feeling in your stomach that something is going to go wrong here.
Wayne writes beautifully, and his characters are very well drawn, even as Veronica and David are not quite what they appear to be. Wayne also takes on the charged atmosphere on college campuses today, with the timeless issues of belonging and wanting to fit in clashing with the sexual politics of today.
Loner is a quick read, only 200 pages, but the story will stay with you a long time. I recommend it.