Tiny, fictional Greenton, set in South Texas, “a one-stoplight town built on cattle and railroads and killed by bypasses and super-ranches,” doesn’t have much going for it. What Greenton does have are “two crown princes,” John Robison and John Mejias, high school baseball stars signed to play college ball for the University of Texas at Austin. The Johns graduated from high school twenty-four hours ago and now they’re dead, killed in a rollover accident on their way to Austin, shortly after a ceremonious departure complete with police escort to the city limits and banners strung across Main Street. Greenton is stunned, especially beautiful Araceli Monsevais, “Goddess of Greenton,” long-time girlfriend of Mejia. Concepcion “Chon” Gonzales has been in love with Araceli for as long as he can remember. Will the town let Araceli move on?
Seeing Off the Johns, a tough and touching coming of age novel by Rene S. Perez II, is an intuitive and rather sophisticated exploration of grief and loss and coping mechanisms, both individually and collectively, told in the language of small-town teenagers, through the lens of Araceli and Chon. We follow the progress, and lack thereof, made by Chon and Araceli and the entire town of Greenton over the next school year as they all attempt to assimilate the worst tragedy the town has ever experienced.
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