The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe

25663785Publication: February 16th, 2016 (first published March 3rd, 2015)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Genres: Young-Adult, Coming-of-Age

Format: Paperback Source: Publisher

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

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This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work- not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.

Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living meansgoing a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed bycreative acts of the soul.

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is-Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It’s the age he’s at. The tragic age.




I’ve wanted to read this book since it first released last year. However, all the mixed reviews made me put it on hold for months. When I got the chance to review it for it’s paperback release, I was all for it. After reading this book, I’m torn between the beautiful writing, and the chaos that it all wraps up to be.

The Tragic Age is, as I said before, beautifully written. There are a slew of characters that make up this story, and they are all really messed up. The way the author tells this story is almost offensive. The stereotypical cast of characters isn’t all that original, but most of it is just pretty darn accurate in terms of their character. And I imagine that’s how most people think. Black males getting scholarships to play sports. Ugh, so wrong, yet so right in a way. Still, it was a little insulting. The promiscuous Latina? Come on, this could have been better. And then there’s Billy, the intelligent loner who is obviously a pessimist. Everyone is dumber than him. Life sucks, and then you die. Hold on…..despite all of this, I actually found myself engrossed in everything that he had to say. The guy is smart, and being inside his head wasn’t that bad. I like male protagonists, but this one is a not what I expected.

This beautifully written book, turns out to be not quite a beautiful story. I didn’t connect with the relationships that formed. Billy’s parents are clueless. Is this about the money? Hmm, not even sure. I just really have nothing to say about this book. I want to recommend it, but then I’m not even sure I want to push this on anyone. This is one of those it’s not you, it’s me reads. However, I’m sure there are readers who may love this. I just find it really irritating.


16 thoughts on “The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe

  1. It seems like this wasn’t a particularly bad book, but that it could be annoying in the fact that it was so stereotypical and doesn’t really seem to offer us anything unique. And for that reason, I don’t think I am going to enjoy it. I think the fact that all the characters fit into such easy to place roles really does bother me. I can see that the writer did write this well and meant to churn out a really good story but it’s just a personal thing that turns me off right now…


  2. In Europe, we get the ‘loose Scandinavian girl’ rather than the ‘promiscuous Latina’ and those kinds of stereotypes just make me mad. It’s like the easiest way out, and I wouldn’t call it writing diverse characters, if all they do is to perpetrate the clichés instead of actually looking behind the clichés to give us some realistic characters, no matter what their background is.
    I’m glad the writing was beautiful, at least, Lekeisha.
    Have a wonderful week and happy reading.


  3. I’m sorry this didn’t work for you. 😦 That sucks though because the writing does seem very lovely. It’s a shame you weren’t able to connect with the character relationships and the stereotypical characters.
    Great review!


  4. Ah, the cliched characters. Those are truly annoying. Generalized and irritating because the exceptions- and there are many of them- stand out to us, but as you say, there is truth to the cliches, too.

    I can’t decide if this is something I would like to read or not. I can see where it would challenge my mind and stretch me- which I do like, but the negativity and hopeless feeling might leave me in a book depression.

    Thoughtful review! Thanks, Lekeisha!


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