Be True to Your School

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

As a high school journalism student in Bexley, Ohio, Bob Greene was encouraged to keep a daily diary to learn the discipline of writing. For one year, from January 1 to December 31, 1964, he wrote in his diary every night. Now a well-known, nationally syndicated columnist and author, Greene has resurrected this diary and fleshed out his notes to a narrative while still keeping the diary format

Bexley, a suburb of Columbus, is a solidly middle-American town, and Greene and his friends seem to be almost the quintessential teenagers. In retrospect, the adult Greene sees the year 1964 as unique. The country had just gone through the trauma of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but the radical social and political changes of the 1960’s were still ahead. It was a time of lingering innocence and a tentative awakening to the new era.

Within this broad context, however, Greene’s diary reveals the very personal joys and pains of growing up. He writes about the everyday things which mean so much when one is young: dances, sports, school, friends, sex. He also reveals a more introspective maturity in many of his observations. Overall, however, he reminds one that being sixteen or seventeen was not the idealized state it often seems when one is forty.

Anyone who actually grew up at that time will especially appreciate the “background music” which appears throughout the diary. Like most teens, Greene was very interested in the music of the time and often recorded the local hits and popular performers. The result is much like AMERICAN GRAFFITI, with the reader playing an internal soundtrack.

More than simply nostalgia, this diary brings back memories of what it was really like to be that young.