The 2013 Big Read is Old School by Tobias Wolff.
Wolff’s first novel is based on his own past. The story follows a young man during his senior year at a New England private school in the early 1960’s. The unnamed narrator is full of ambition to become a writer and dreams of winning a literary contest held three times a year at the school in order to interview a famous author. It is experiences with his dean, other students, and literary greats such as Hemingway and Frost that let the narrator find the balance between tradition and ambition.
The American boy with a Jewish heritage comes from humble beginnings in Seattle. He finds himself longing to blend with the wealth and heritage of the Anglo population that fills the New England school. His desire to win the contest brings new struggles as he is accused of plagiarism for his short story.
This coming of age story follows a young man trying to find his place and fulfill his dreams of being a writer. Through his development themes of tradition, class, and self-identity are explored. Old School is a novel that celebrates American literature while at the same tells a heartwarming coming of age story.