Publication Date: Apr 17, 2005
List Price US $14.00
At the Shores is a classic novel of love in America. Set in the Indiana dunes and Chicago, it tells the story of Jerry Engels, an appealing, handsome, middle-class boy, who even in elementary school finds himself forever in love: “He loved the girls in his class, the girls on the block, the maid at home, his sister’s friends, some of his mother’s friends. . . . He even loved girls he just happened to see out the window of the car.” In high school–the renowned University of Chicago Laboratory High School–he strives to make the grades his academically superb sister made and his parents expect, but as the world becomes erotically charged for him, he finds it hard to study. Unlike other boys, who live according to the “approved doctrine that there are other things in the world besides girls–politics, cars, sports, finding out about things and fixing things, and making money”–Jerry cares only about girls. For him, “girls are a kind of blessing. When he saw a girl like Betty Lomax walking through Belfield Hall with a fresh flower tucked into her hair, he felt like kissing her out of gratitude for having bought that flower and put it in her hair.” Then, at the end of his junior year, he falls deeply, passionately in love with Rosalind Ingleside, the most beautiful, respected, and wealthy girl in school, and for almost all of one summer Jerry’s dream of loving and being loved is fulfilled.
“If I had a class in American Adolescence, I’d teach At the Shores in tandem with The Catcher in the Rye and Growing Up Absurd. This meticulously perceived and modest novel about growing up in America anything but absurd is probably closer to more lives than we might suspect. It does wonders for one’s sense of reality.”
– Philip Roth