Finished November 8
Serious Things by Gregory Norminton
This novel jumps back and forth between two time periods, In the current time, Bruno Jackson is thirty-one, working for the Ministry of Transportation on road toll pricing policy. He is overweight, single, gay, and depressed. When he encounters his estranged best friend from his boarding school days, the guilt and sadness that he has been carrying for years are reawakened in him, and have devastating consequences.
In the early 1990s, when Bruno lived with his parents in Malaysia. As he entered high school, his parents decided to send him to a good boarding school in England to better prepare him for university. He is one of the few boys there who is a British expatriate, meaning that he isn't familiar with the same cultural knowledge as his peers. He is also shy, academically-inclined, and not athletic. He befriends another boy Anthony Blunden, whom he has a secret crush on. He and Anthony spend a lot of time together at school, but Anthony can often be cruel, and thoughtless in terms of how he treats Bruno. Both boys are taken under the wing of a new teacher at the school, Mr. Bridge, who shares his love of literature with the boys, bringing them for visits to his home, and encouraging their reading beyond the syllabus.
As the book jumps back and forth between "Now" and "Then", we gradually learn the story of Bruno's boarding school days, his friendship with Anthony, and the circumstances that drove Bruno to the life he is now living.
This is not a happy book, but it is a book that shows the power of influence and guilt. This would be a very good book for book clubs, offering much for discussion.