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Paper Covers Rock
by Jenny Hubbard
Alex narrates his story through diary entries and poetry. At the beginning of the school year, Alex and his friends are drinking and decide to jump off a tall rock into the river. Thomas, one of Alex’s best friends, dies. With that death comes terror—the terror of someone finding out that they were illegally drinking. The terror that Mrs. Dovecott saw more than she is letting on. The terror that Thomas’s last words will shatter someone’s life.
Alex life is full of secrets. He splits his time between daydreaming about his crush on Mrs. Dovecott and wondering how far Glenn will go to keep their secret. Paper Covers Rock revolves around Thomas’ death and the boys wanting to keep their drinking a secret. Glenn wants Alex to tempt Mrs. Dovecott into kissing him so that she will get fired. And Alex reluctantly goes along with the plan.
The storyline of Paper Covers Rocks does not always ring true. The boys’ lives are full of lies, deception, and sexual content. As Alex paints the story of his life, it is hard to connect with someone who is willing to lie to everyone around him in order to hide the fact that he was drinking when his friend died.
- Alex spends a lot of time fantasizing about his English teacher, who he thinks he is in love with. In one scene he thinks, “I wish there were punch, I wish it was spiked, I wish that Mrs. Dovecott would drink a gallon of it and make crazy love to me.”
- When talking about the culture of the school, the narrator explains that there are not a lot of employees at the school who are hot. “If you want to have a crush on a Burch bitch . . . there are not a lot of options. You’ve got your dining hall employees, but they’re inbred. . .”
- The narrator mentions that his roommate is, “jacking off every night.”
- The narrator wonders if his friend is gay. At school there, is no worse label than being gay.
- One of Alex’s friends tells him, “Your brains are in your crotch.”
- The boys play a version of Would You Rather. “Would you rather watch Mrs. Davido give a blow job to Buddha or Mr. Lyme? Would you rather watch Miss Dovecott give a blow job to Gaybrook or Everson?” Then they talk about if Mrs. Dovecott could get Gaybrook “off” and if Everson would “sploodge in about two seconds.”
- Alex is glad that his mom isn’t coming to parents’ weekend because she will be labeled as a FUM, “boarding-school speak for (f^ckable mom).”
- The boys wonder if a teacher is a lesbian.
- Alex thinks about how he, “fondled a girl’s breast once. Her nipples were tiny, but her tits were huge . . . She laid the sweater across my crotch and slid a hand underneath it . . . I moaned and came in my shorts.”
- Someone tells a story about girls kissing another girl’s breast and practicing kissing on each other. “I had heard before that girls practice kissing with one another so that they know what they’re doing when a boy kisses them for real.”
- Alex thinks about the faculty members’ daughters who are sent away to go to school. He thinks that the girls who stayed would all have sex with his friend Glen, if Glen wanted to have sex with them.
- At a dance, someone talks about how a student committed suicide. “This teacher’s theory is that the boy took all those pills because he was struggling with his sexuality . . . He might have been gay.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- While drinking, Alex and his friends jump off a rock and into a river. His friend Thomas, who was “shit-faced” from chugging vodka, hits his head on a rock and dies. The boys are afraid that if the school finds out, they will be expelled.
- There is drinking at a football game that the alums go to.
- Alex says someone is, “full of shit.”
- The narrator says that parents pay “shit-loads” of money to send their sons away to boarding school.
- An “ass-hole” who lived in Alex’s dorm room before he moved in burnt holes in the carpet with cigarettes.
- Profanity is scattered throughout the book. The profanity includes bullshit, f^ck, smart-ass, and damn.
- The school’s reverend, “is a hypocrite. He preaches on the sin of homosexuality at least once a trimester, he quotes the Scriptures, twists it so that it fits his message. . .The good reverend says that we are made in God’s image. God is perfect. Therefore, God is not gay. If you engage in the sin of homosexuality, then you will contract gay cancer and die a very slow, very painful death.”
- In one sermon the reverend says, “You will come to learn that God shows His mercy in small ways . . . God is with us, and under His watch, all things are good.” Alex doesn’t agree.
- Alex’s father told him that, “religion was a human invention.” Alex thinks that more educated people don’t, “need religion to make sense of the word.” Therefore Alex does not believe in God.
- The reverend says Thomas, “did not die in vain; he was part of God’s plan.” Alex thinks, “Even God does not have the power to intervene in a world where centuries of evil have rooted beneath the surface of everything . . . My father is right: humans made god up to satisfy their own needs.
- Mr. Parks preaches that “God is programmed into our DNA, so He’s there under our skin, biologically there, to connect us to a force larger than ourselves.” Alex wonders if homosexuality is programmed there too.