James Franco's "Palo Alto": Are things really this awful?
Original post made by Adobe, Adobe-Meadow, on Apr 8, 2011
But apart from that....yikes! The stories are all about teens growing up in town, and it seems like every character is a borderline sociopath. All characters are either perpetrators or victims of bullying, alcohol and drug abuse, misogynist sexual exploitation of girls, vandalism, and more. No one exhibits remorse for any of their deeply antisocial behavior, and everyone is depressed. Reading the book, you get the impression that teens in this town are all Eric Harrises and Dylan Klebolds, teetering on the edge, about to commit some horrific crime.
This all seems inconsistent with what you read on this forum, where the prevailing characterization of Palo Alto teens is of over-worked academic and athletic over-achievers staying up until 1am doing their homework. I also don't recognize all these sociopathic types among the bright, polite, and apparently well-adjusted local high school kids I've come in contact with.
A lot of the reviewers on amazon.com call Franco's book pretentious, pointless, derivative and poorly written. That may be true, but what I'm more interested in is how prevalent is the stuff he describes among our town's teens. Everyone knows that the middle and high school years can be really tough times for everyone, and you're always going to have some who act out. But Franco's book makes it seem like the world of teens in Palo Alto is one big cesspool, hanging by a thread.
Have any Gunn or Paly students on this forum read the book? What did you guys think of its depictions of high school life in Palo Alto?