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Hannah’s Pick of the Week: Speech Team by Tim Murphy

Happy Panda! Was he really going to take us right back into the belly of the high school beast? He may as well show up wearing Willi Smith, with the Cocteau Twins in his Walkman, and a copy of Less Than Zero in his backpack.

Tim Murphy, Speech Team

What if The Big Chill had a rollicking road trip with the final destination at revenge?

Tip Murray is a nonprofit writer, recovering alcoholic and recent Rhode Island home-owner (well, half home-owner: he shares it with his boyfriend). As he settles into his middle-aged life of quiet domesticity, the last thing he expects is his high school best friend Natalie telling him that his high school crush recently committed suicide. Tip expects even less so that said crush references a remark in his final Facebook post from their high school speech team coach: a cruel jab that sent him over the edge.

As Nat and Tip ruminate over their earlier days, they decide to reunite with their other speech team teammates, Anthony and Jennifer. Soon, the four discover an unsettling thread connected to their speech team coach Mr. Gold and his deeply cutting remarks, and decide to confront him at his posh retirement resort in Florida… which of course has unimaginable consequences.

In equal parts acerbic and affecting, Tim Murphy takes us through what it means to move forward and look back at the past with nostalgia without the rose-colored glasses. With certainly his fair share of cringey conversations and sometimes eye-rolling references, Murphy brings us in to a group of friends/teammates/sometimes enemies or lovers and makes us feel like one of the team. If you’re a fan of gossipy writing, the faux pas of a high school reunion and the dangers of going into Floridan retirement communities unprepared, then this is the book for you.

If Speech Team by Tim Murphy intrigues you, The Celebrants by Steven Rowley, Less by Andrew Sean Greer, and The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman are great next reads. Tim Murphy is also the author of Correspondents and Christodora, and you can listen to his 80s playlist below as you read through this blast from the past.

Photo Credit: Lambda Literary

Categories: Books and More

Tags: Books and More

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