Frenchy (Gerald) and his best and only friend Stewart are in high school together, barely surviving with their usual combination of smoking and plotting meticulous pranks. Even though Frenchy just goes through the motions more, instead of really focusing on his schoolwork; and Stewart is very concerned with grades and tries really hard, but they both get good grades and do well in school.
Another difference between Frenchy and Stewart is their family/background. Frenchy is from a much poorer family than Stewart. Frenchy's dad was in the army, but sadly he came back from the army with post traumatic stress disorder and killed himself. His mom is a police officer. Stewart's family is a lot more 'well off', and his family has a lot of money and hippie inclinations.
When the school drama department opens auditions for the upcoming production of the musical the Man of La Mancha, Stewart convinces Frenchy to audition with him. Against all odds, they get the two lead roles: Stocky, short Frenchy is cast as Sancho, and Stewart, tall and thin, gets the lead of Don Quixote/Cervantes. For Frenchy, the play is a fun thing to do, that he ends up enjoying more than he thought he would. But for Stewart, the play becomes more... his reality.
This book was beautiful. It reads genuinely, really sounds like teens talking, and it comes across as real, honest, painful, and suspenseful. My favorite quote from the book was something like: The best people in life make the world a bigger place and then help you grow to fit into the bigger world. Great book, but it is sad, and intense. It is a good summer read, but a little more on the heavy side.