A Boy I Once Knew: What a Teacher Learned from Her Student

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Algonquin Books, May 17, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 208 pages
A “touching and heartfelt” true story about loss, memory, and a remarkable bond between an English teacher and one of her former students (Booklist).
 
One morning, a box was delivered to Elizabeth Stone’s door. It held ten years of personal diaries and a letter that began: Dear Elizabeth, You must be wondering why I left you my diaries in my will. After all, we have not seen each other in over twenty years . . .
 
What followed was an extraordinary year in Elizabeth’s life as she read Vincent’s diaries and began to learn about the high school student she taught in Brooklyn twenty-five years before. A Boy I Once Knew is the story of the man Vincent had become and one woman’s journey to understanding him more deeply—and along the way, understanding herself.
 
With his diaries, Vincent becomes a constant presence in Elizabeth’s household. She follows his daily life in San Francisco and his travels abroad. She watches him deal with the deaths of friends in the gay community during the AIDS epidemic. She judges him. She gets angry with him. She develops affection and compassion for him. In some ways, she brings him back to life. And in doing so, she becomes the student, and Vincent the teacher. He forces her to examine her life as well as his, challenges her feelings and fears about death—and ultimately, proves to her that relationships between two people can deepen even after one of them is gone.
 
“A meditation on memory and how a story can be a form of immortality.” —Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club
 
 

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A BOY I ONCE KNEW: The Story of a Teacher and Her Student

User Review  - Kirkus

High-school English teacher Stone chronicles a journey of discovery that began when she received a case of diaries bequeathed to her by a former student who died of AIDS.Vincent was in one of Stone's ... Read full review

Review: A Boy I Once Knew: What a Teacher Learned from her Student

User Review  - Aimee - Goodreads

This book gave me lots to think about. I enjoyed how it was written. Read full review

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About the author (2002)

Elizabeth Stone is a teacher and journalist and the author of Black Sheep and Kissing Cousins: How Our Family Stories Shape Us. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey, and teaches writing and literature at the Lincoln Center campus of Fordham University in New York.

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