The Answer: “I have a secret. And everyone knows it. But no one talks about it, at least not out in the open. That makes it a very modern secret, like knowing your favorite celebrity has some weird eccentricity or other, or professional athletes do it for money, or politicians don’t actually have your best interests at heart.”sprout

So begins Daniel Bradford’s, aka Sprout‘s, answer to the question, posed for the Kansas statewide essay contest.  16 year old Sprout’s got lots of potential material in his life to use as inspiration: his mom died of cancer when he was 12; his dad’s a deeply depressed alcoholic trying to drown his grief; he’s a social outsider in the small Kansas town they’ve fled to; and he’s gay and searching for more than a closeted connection. But there’s more to it than that, and that’s what Sprout must face as he tries to balance his desire to simply observe his life while realizing that each of his actions (or inactions) has consequences on those around him.

Part reflective meditation, part humorous commentary on society’s hypocrisies, and part wry lesson in grammar, punctuation and word choice, Sprout’s journey through the last four years (although mostly the last 6 months) of his life is often funny, sometimes painful, and certainly engaging.  Dale Peck has created a character whose troubles are both universal and searingly individual, and whose desperate search to understand them leaves the reader wondering if there ever really are any answers to the question: “‘Actions are visible, though motives are secret.’-Samuel Johnson. Discuss, using examples from life and or literature.”

  • Posted by Cori

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