“To hear them tell it, I was too young for Cassie, too square for Cheryl and too white for Danielle. Clearly, if I were to age eight years, develop a drug habit and somehow turn black, I’d have to beat the girls back with a stick.”
There’s no shortage of literary coming-of-age tales, most of them painfully earnest. But you’ll carry no such “baggage” to the Planet of the Dates, whose frank and freewheeling sense of humor only helps to convey, in an entertaining way, the passion and the pathos of growing up.
Planet of the Dates follows the exploits of Phil Corcoran, a girl-crazed Milwaukee teen stumbling toward adulthood in the summer of 1980. Phil’s personal transition coincides with a cultural shift: from Carter to Reagan; from disco to punk; from the last gasp of the Age of Aquarius to the era of “Greed is good.” As the story unfolds, Phil—himself very much a product of the ’70s—winds up ushering in the new decade in some apt and telling ways.
The book’s rich cast of characters is anchored by a classic love triangle: the naïve yet willful Phil, a sci-fi fanatic and budding Super-8 auteur whose hormones and heart fuel myriad schemes for obtaining hot sex and true love (in no particular order); Stefanie Slocum, the clever teen actress-in-training who “auditions” our young hero for the role of first-ever boyfriend; and Cheryl Jantz, the dazed yet desirable stoner-girl who’s way too cool for the likes of Phil… or is she?
The story builds to an audacious, near-epic climax that must be read to be believed. But believe it you shall, recognizing—with a chill and a chuckle—that this upside-down world is, in fact, our own world, and has been all along!