It’s 1970 and Frank Phelan doesn’t see love coming when the mysterious Starr Summers joins his Grade 10 History class and screams in protest when Frank is brutally strapped by the teacher, Michaels. Starr has her own history of abuse.
Laura Phelan is not a mother any teacher wants to cross. She confronts Michaels in the Principal’s office and gets him suspended. Beside himself with anger and humiliation, the disgraced Michaels plans his revenge, unaware that Laura’s friend and former WWII assassin, Gisella Taglio, has plans of her own for the teacher.
Frank is about to declare his love for Starr, when she suddenly becomes silent and withdrawn. He suspects his enemy, Dixie, a vicious older punk. When the law fails him, Frank goes to war with himself and the world.
Windsor, Ontario – 1970
The night was perfect for drowning a dog—a rare velvet evening in May along the shores of the Detroit River under the arching black shadow of the Ambassador Bridge. But parked in his aging 1964 Mustang, Bernie Michaels was too drunk, too angry and too intent on his mission to really notice. “A bitch for a bitch,” he announced. How hard could it be? Sharp points of light picked out the graceful spans of bridge, then blurred and merged with the bright shoals of Detroit’s skyline a mile distant. Transport trucks moved fitfully toward the customs booths in both directions, the noise of diesel engines and releasing airbrakes undiminished by height and humidity.READ MORE
"Bottoms up!” Slouched behind the wheel, Bernie drained the last ounces of liquor from the mickey of Walker’s Special Old Whiskey. The taste was cloying and sweet. With ritual disdain, Bernie poured the brown dregs onto his neglected pile of grade ten History assignments on the floor of the convertible, blotting out the student’s name on top. “Screw you, Frank D. Phelan!”
Bernie had parked the Mustang convertible in the far corner of the riverfront passion park, known locally as ‘Hep’s,’ just after 9:00 p.m. on the last Friday of the month. He dropped the empty bottle onto the school papers and sat seething behind the wheel. The shiny brown plastic Lazare’s Fine Furs bag was ready on the seat next to him. Behind, on the back seat, the small dog whined uncertainly inside the silver-wrapped box, still tied with its red Christmas bow. It seemed fitting that he do the mutt here, in the place where a part of Bernie had so recently died—been murdered really.
Even in his irrational state, what little logic remained told Bernie Michaels the dog was not at fault. The way Bernie saw it, they were both victims. “Damn straight!” Both had been deserted by the person they loved and trusted most; the person they thought loved and trusted them right back. “’Til death do us part, right, doggie?”COLLAPSE
“Set at the time of the Detroit Race Riots, Insect Youth unfolds in an era surprisingly like our own. It is a gripping teenage story of extremes: persecution, kindness, jealousy, love, cruelty, loss, and ultimately — revenge.”