It's sophomore year of high school, and Cory has been plucked from his home and transplanted into a tiny town in Iowa because of his father's job transfer, much to his abject dismay. He misses his best friend from childhood, Sherri, whom he has had to leave behind. So he writes to her of his struggles in his new home and leaves her a giant missive in the cloud, somewhat as a journal and somewhat as a way of reaching out to his closest friend in his loneliness.
But soon Cory meets Indigo, an unusual girl to whom he finds himself immediately attracted. She is so unusual, in fact, that for a brief spell, Cory wonders if she is in fact male. Once he falls for her, however, he discovers that he doesn't care what her gender is because his attraction is to who Indigo is, rather than the parts she was born with. This realization results in Cory's deep self-exploration of the nature of attraction, of sexuality, of the differences between genders and the crossovers that transgendered people experience. He is inspiringly nonjudgmental and refreshingly open to new understandings and new experiences. His musings are thoughtful, reflective, and intelligent.
Cory soon joins a theater club to be near Indigo, but right away someone in the school begins playing dangerous pranks that are clearly related to the club's upcoming production of a play about the Greek demigod Dionysus. It isn't long before Cory begins to feel that someone is setting him up, but for what purpose remains a mystery. In the meantime, he learns a great deal from Indigo about the famous nineteenth-century philosopher Nietzsche, with whose philosophical views Indigo is heavily invested. Cory disagrees with many of the things Ingrid tries to teach him, but her arguments lead him to explore his own views more deeply, and he learns much about himself in the process. He also learns a tremendous amount from his manager at his part-time job, who is flippantly and yet engagingly opinionated about a variety of subjects that all seem to hinge on philosophy, whether the philosophy of thought or of political systems.
Ultimately, Cory succeeds in winning Indigo over, and they become intimate in ways that enable Cory to explore his sexuality with a partner whom he cares for and respects. Their encounters are passionate but also gracious and considerate. It is an excellent model for new lovers just discovering each other.
And then one day, Indigo goes missing. She simply disappears. Cory becomes worried, and when he finally receives texts from her on his phone, he is even more worried because they seem to indicate that something is clearly wrong. So he sets out to find her, and in the process, he discovers that the Nietzschean philosophy that Indigo taught him, while not the answer to everything, in his view, is the literal difference between life and death.
Discussion questions concerning the various philosophical viewpoints and ideas in the novel, as well as about several important aspects of the plot, appear at the end of the book.
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