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SOCIAL STIGMA: A Novel
Adam was convinced he could trust his intuition. After he awakens from a medicated haze, the only thing Adam is certain of is his inability to recognize himself. To come to terms with his shocking reality, he culls through the pivotal memories of the last four years. Always frank, sometimes humorous, occasionally sentimental, and often tragic, Social Stigma is an uncensored interior journey through the seamy frontlines of teenage suburbia. As alliances are formed and broken, Adam engages in questionable behavior, and realizes the consequences of betraying the person one wants to be in the process of whom one ultimately becomes.
Adam’s name could be substituted in any news story read around the country about the repercussions of bullying on high school and college campuses. Adam’s story is unique in that it is told through a sequence of excruciatingly frank memories spanning four years. During this period, Adam is enthralled by a group of adolescents who represent the high school interpretation of the American dream—popularity. Throughout his relationship with the group, Adam constantly finds his convictions and his desire for acceptance in opposition. Simple acts like defying curfew intensify into ultimate acts of betrayal. Cyber flirtations and vicious pranks complicate Adam’s stability, as does a serious undiagnosed mental illness.
The manuscript is 148,000 words in length.
Ask any of Adam’s classmates at Jefferson High and they will tell you he has it all. His list of AP courses grants him easy access into any of the nation’s elite universities, he is a member of more clubs than one can list on both hands, he has a fabulously wealthy and famous mother, everyone envies his relationship Jane, his loyal best friend, who is the wisest, most compassionate, and beautiful girl in school, with whom he shares a near telepathic relationship, and to top it all off, Adam is a card-carrying member in Derek and Monique’s clique. If one were to prod at Adam’s anonymous classmates, suggesting the interview was off the record, he or she might learn that most students bitterly wonder, “What is so special about Adam,” or wish for his social demise.
Unbeknownst to his peers, Adam is barely surviving. His self-esteem is dangerously low. This attracts Derek and Monique much like blood lures sharks in the water to susceptible prey. As the treacherous clique becomes toxic to Adam’s emotional health, requiring acts of tribute with increasingly deadly ramifications, Adam discovers surprising secrets and forbidden romances. How far will he go to protect them?
Social Stigma is Zachary Fishman’s first completed novel. He was inspired by the brave individuals, some who he has known intimately, who have been othered and been bullied because of sexual orientation, a mental illness, race, gender, level of education, political viewpoint, or social economic status. Zachary has done much research and believes that there are not enough novels for teens with protagonists that have a mental illness or struggle with sexual orientation. In the digital era teens are being increasingly bullied for things they cannot change and often tragedy occurs. Zachary believes that literature is meant to educate and comfort and that the themes of Social Stigma have the potential to reach out to a voiceless segment of the population. He has used twitter to reach out to some of these potential individual readers. @adamtransition reflects the social views and interests of both Adam and Zachary Fishman. Zachary Fishman received his BA from The University of Michigan in Creative Writing with Honors and Communication and is pursuing his MA in Creative Writing at Wayne State. He is at work on a sequel to Social Stigma and dabbles in poetry and short stories.