Matthew knows how things work. He’s pretty much an expert. For example: friends. Friendship requires both give and take, and Matthew strongly prefers taking. The solution is close acquaintances—people who think you’re their friend because you nod and act interested about whatever the hell they’re talking about. School? Perfectly pleasant as long as you don’t pay attention. Mom? Award yourself a point for each hands on hips or young man. Wear her down until you can get what you want. The general rule: The less anyone knows about you, the better.
But even someone as clever as Matthew needs practice. That’s where Michael comes in. See, Michael doesn’t get it. He’s the kind of kid who comes up with the answer before the teacher. He’s the kind of kid who asks questions. He’s the kind of kid who still has the ratty old backpack he should have thrown in someone’s dumpster years ago. Consequently, he’s the kind of kid who gets the crap beaten out of him on a regular basis.
So one day, Matthew, out of the kindness of his heart, decides to help Michael out. Turn his life around. Teach him how to make his life as great as Matthew’s. Before long, Matthew is helping Michael screw with his NASCAR-loving stepfather. He’s spreading rumors to convince the population of Alexander High School that Michael is a serious badass. He weaves his way into the lives of Michael’s estranged dad, and even Chrissy, the half-sister Michael never even knew he had.
But what if Michael isn’t grateful for all of Matthew’s hard work? What if he actually likes who he is? Why the hell would he, and for that matter, why should Matthew even care?
Changing Michael is an absorbing exploration into the head of one of the most fascinating high school characters since Holden Caulfield. Jeff Schilling’s remarkably insightful debut presents a story and a narrative voice readers will remember for a very long time to come.