Nathan Nix has penned a truly compelling coming-of-age novel
In Nathan Nix's 2013 novel, The Drifters, homecoming queen Nic had plans to attend UT of Austin in the fall with her best friend Mel and her high school sweetheart Cory, but due to unforeseen circumstances, she loses her spot and has to attend the local community college, Montgomery Community College, or MoCo, instead.
Come September, Nic finds herself enrolled at MoCo that is, as she likes to describe it herself, like some sort of bizarre purgatory. “The bizarre thing was that I felt like I was a high school party again, but all the cool people were gone, and all that was left were the riff-raff.”
She catches herself mixing with a different crowd totally dissimilar from the usual folk she hung out with during her pre-college days. She had the choice to make friends with her old high school crew who currently attend MoCo, or the bounty of “drifters” (fourth-year freshmen that clustered the campus). Nic discovers herself slowly drifting away from her safe suburban life, and befriending the likes of a burgeoning artist who is too afraid to show her work but shows Nic a part of the city she had never quite explored and a musician who throws himself in Nic’s path desperate to win her over and goes on to show her a side of herself she never quite knew about before.
Nic desperately wants to transfer to UT to join Mel and Cory in the following semester, but due to the ultimate roadblock (she didn’t have enough transfer credits in order to enroll in the university in the exact timeframe she wanted), Nic has to divert her plans for the future in Austin.
But gradually, with one eye on the future, making rent, learning more about student loans, living expenses, and just learning how to be an adult overall, changes Nic’s perspective about UT. And suddenly, “and there it was – the outsiders were insiders, and the former insiders I was once a queen of were now the outsiders.”
Being on her own really starts to define her and build upon her character as a person. The new group of artists and musicians that she hangs out with starts to cultivate interests and open up a point of view and an opinion of the world around her that she never knew she was capable of grasping before. Nic starts to feel like a more developed persona, feeling more complete as a person. She begins to visualize a path ahead of her apart from UT and Austin and instead in her home front of Houston.
This riveting coming-of-age story is reminiscent of Nick Hornby with its engaging first-person confessional style. Nathan Nix does an excellent job of creating an engaging narrator’s voice. We get the 19-year old female perspective with all its ups and downs, quips for the future, securities and insecurities, with a well-crafted writing style that brings the city of Houston alive with its descriptions of haunts and dives that populate the area.
A daring teen novel about growing up, The Drifters is brimming with ironic observations about the alternative culture while bringing to life all the intricacies of adulthood with startling bursts of raw insight.