Written by Elizabeth Harvey of Needham, MA (Class of 2017)
Chris: Chris is a compassionate young man, but has always been an unintentional troublemaker since the 7th grade. Chris’s parents both work a lot and frequently travel, leaving Chris in the care of his older cousins who love to party. Because of his parents absence and his family’s actions, Chris became a teen-age alcoholic who abused various hard drugs. He would never intentionally hurt someone, but his addictions became destructive for the people he cared most about. Chris was searching for something to give him fulfillment in his life and make up for the emptiness he felt without his parents being present. Chris had been missing for a long time, but with the help of Courtney and God, he is able to find himself again and re-learn how to enjoy life while sober. It took a while for him to be set free from his demons, but once he did, he became an example of the positivity that spirituality has in a teenager’s life. Chris is now secure, consoling, and humble due to his newfound strength and belief in God. Chris serves as an inspiration and is a very positive example for the reader. I wish Chris was able to see earlier on how destructive his cousin Taylor’s behavior was, but I think it was necessary for his development for Chris to hit rock bottom in order to understand just how big of a problem he actually had. I really love how Chris is able to stick firm with his beliefs and still have respect for other’s choices whom he may not necessarily agree with.
Courtney: Courtney comes from a world of privilege, being the Mayor’s daughter she has not had to endure many difficulties in her life in that respect; but she still does have her demons. She is still trying to find herself and relies on others for validation of her self-worth. Like most teenage girls, she desperately wanted to be popular and this desire consumed her life and made her lose sight of the girl who wore no makeup and was kind to everyone. Her insecurities also played a major role in why she gave into peer pressure and began getting involved with partying and became focused on her looks—losing the light that she used to radiate. Because of her sheltered lifestyle, Courtney felt a strong desire to rebel and with this rebellion strayed farther from God. She became very disrespectful to her parents, especially towards her mother, and had little care for others. Fortunately, Courtney begins to rekindle her relationship with God and everything suddenly hit her like a ton of bricks. She learned how to be humble and the value of God in her life. She understands that she is no better or worse than anybody and that popularity doesn’t mean anything to God. I really respect Courtney’s evolution and the fact that she was able to admit that she was not a good person and can remedy that, eventually returning to her real friends: Marielle, Julie, Chantal.
Jason: Jason comes from a wealthy family where perfection is expected, especially when it comes to school. He craves love and turns to drugs and alcohol in order to replace the lack of affection he receives at home. Jason is too smart for his own good and because he is so gifted he easily becomes bored and seeks out challenges, which is where he gets into trouble. He is extremely charismatic, quick-witted, and everyone seems to love him. Despite all of this, partying has consumed his life and he acts very destructive towards himself and others around him. He also feels a lot of pressure to keep his image intact and has the ability to flash a fake smile in order to keep the fun times going. Jason lacks confidence and believes he is worthless. Additionally Jason has never been secure in his faith due to the fear from when he was younger that a priest would molest him and as soon as he heard this he felt like everything he had grown up believing was a lie. He is very broken, but after Andy’s accident has begun to reaffirm his faith and is finally ready to once again let God into his heart.
Chantal: I really love the character of Chantal for her consistency and everlasting kindness towards her friends and even people she doesn’t like. She is a genuine person who is honest, loyal, and is not comfortable with the party scene. Her faith is unwavering, but she has struggled with her attraction to both Jon and Andy and what that has meant for her relationship with God. It is hard for her to let people in sometimes due to the betrayment she suffered from her sister, but she always chooses kindness and forgiveness over revenge.
Cathy: Cathy’s insecurities and shyness took over her life and completely destroyed the person she used to be. Her faith has been stripped from her due to her anxiety over socializing, especially with boys, and this led her to overcompensate and become the ultimate manipulator. She began changing after dating Jason in order to fit into his world and became the socialite of the friend group. Cathy carries a lot of pain around with her and this causes her to act ruthless to others, including her sister who she envies.
Bryan: Bryan is a good guy who treats everyone with respect and kindness. He is not that comfortable with partying, but has definitely been involved. I see him as someone who is good at balancing fun, school, and responsibilities and does not have strong addictions such as Chris and Jon even though he has been around that type of stuff before. Bryan is madly in love with Courtney and wants to protect her at all costs and ends up being a very safe and healthy relationship for her.
Jon: Jon has a strong belief in God, but because he is friends with both Jason and Chris, he fell into the partying scene. He stood out from the rest of the boys because his faith was so strong and he actively tried to make friends in his youth group who would hold him accountable in his Christian path. Insecurity took over his life and he relied on temporary pleasures in life to fulfill him and caused him to have a harsh tempor. He desperately wants to please everyone in his life and always tries to be a good friend, even if that ends up hurting himself more. He is also dealing with abandonment issues that stem from his father leaving MA, and this greatly contributed to his involvement with drugs and alcohol. I really admire his love for Chantal and his desire to do right by himself and God.