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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Screenplay writer David H. Steinberg, of the iconic teen movies “Slackers” and the “American Pie” series, shows that 10 years after the movies’ releases, when it comes to playing out teen lingo, sex drives and self-deprecations, he still understands teenagers — all of which we see in his new book “Last Stop This Town.”

With the upcoming “American Pie Reunion” flick, those who grew up watching Jim and the guys grow from horny teens to college guys, and now parents, may think, “Damn, the years sure flew.” But now it’s time for them to move over for the new teens in town.

“Last Stop This Town” brings in a new set of teens who are just as lovable. Think of the growing-up storylines we’ve come to love from “American Pie” and the raunchy humor we’ve picked up from hits such as “Superbad” and “The Hangover.” Mix that into this coming-of-age story about four friends who are in limbo between high school graduation and college — an area no film or book has ventured into quite like this.

They do what most 18-year-old high school seniors would do in this situation: live life to the fullest — or at least try to.

Dylan, Noah, Warren and Pike are characters who make up the perfect teen entourage. Dylan is the frustrated leader of the pack, who gets a lot of the soon-to-be-classic lines. Despite his confidence, he is very unsure of where to take his life and how to make his dad proud. Noah, the Ivy-League-bound boy, has the perfect life, the perfect balance of book smarts and street smarts and the perfect girlfriend — until they break up.

Warren is the way-too-talkative guy who respects women so much that instead of talking them into bed, he bores them to death with his chatter of “let’s exchange emails” and “are you on Facebook?” catchphrases. He’s the guy who, as Dylan perfectly describes, girls will like when they’re older because right now they don’t want respect, they want someone “to tip the scales of their precarious self-esteem by making them feel special.”

And of course, what would a perfect teen epic be without the stoner? Pike is a smart, mouthy, laidback guy, who at one point in the story is described by a potential hookup as “funny, good-looking (in a young Sean Penn kind of way).” It’s impossible to not reference Jeff Spicoli, of 1982’s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” fame — after all, he is the epitome of teen stoner.

This foursome of troubles and trifles creates an interesting dynamic that spends its days in the suburbs of Hartford, Conn., doing the usual activities: hooking up and bribing homeless men to buy booze for parties (one of the homeless men ends up drinking his stash and throwing his fecal matter at them).

So, to end their high school years on a high, they decide to go to an underground rave in New York. The journey to the rave drives the story forward, and along the way, they live, learn and come to terms with their futures.

Steinberg keeps readers on their toes with his witty, film-worthy lines and unexpected turns of events. When you think things are becoming cliche and expected, he throws unexpected elements into the teen mix.

With pop-culture references spanning the `80s, `90s, `00s and today, the appeal is wide. Anyone who has been a teen in the last 30 years will enjoy the romp and raunchiness that effortlessly and realistically flows throughout the novel.

This will surely become a timeless teen story, and possibly a movie, that will greatly define the zeitgeist of teen culture for this new decade.

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In fewer than 200 pages, Steinberg covers a lot of ground and takes us through the ups and downs that come with being a teen, all while allowing the four young men to grow for the better as their journey comes to end — or the beginning, as many would say.

“Last Stop This Town” is already out, and David Steinberg has upcoming Q&A and signing sessions.

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