Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Nathan Pettijohn
For What It's Worth
The prank pact was meant to be fun.  Now they just want to live through it. Tulsa, 2006. Jon Ryan and his three best friends spend the final days of their senior year goofing off and taking mushrooms at casino concerts, keeping adulthood at arms’ length as long as possible. To memorialize their time together, they make a pact: one prank per person, per night, on the last week of school. From subtle psychological torture and glitter bombs to a stolen llama and a dead body in the trunk, what begins as harmless fun escalates into a matter of life and death. The pranks lead to a head-on collision with their mailbox aficionado principal, their jewel-thief history teacher, and a slew of petty criminals, oil-money gangsters, and the Japanese mob. It’s a hell of a final exam to pass if the boys hope to live till graduation.
Pettijohn (author of Public Opinion) takes readers on an uproarious, expectation-defying journey through the final year of four high school friends in Tulsa as a playful spree turns deadly. The mission of Jon Ryan, Fonz, Weasel, and Hernandez: to create unforgettable senior pranks that will go down in school history. The first half of the novel is a spirited coming-of-age story, painting a vivid picture of these friends determined to savor their time before graduation in 2006, just before smartphones changed American life. They take turns orchestrating increasingly absurd pranks, from stealing a llama to painting a blue wall…well, a slightly different shade of blue. Their plans go awry when they fall unwittingly into a petty thievery gone wrong, leading to the discovery of not one but two dead bodies, stolen jewels and an angry yakuza gang. The seniors must now decide to either put aside their pranks and do the right but difficult thing—or abandon all morality and save themselves.

Their escapades lead to hilarious and often suspenseful confrontations with their school principal, detectives, a dead history teacher, thieving older boys, and of course their own parents and futures, as their impending graduation is as threatened as their lives. Pettijohn crafts a compelling narrative, with strong scenes and dialogue, that pits these well-drawn friends against real dangers and an array of eccentric characters, while exploring their camaraderie with that bittersweet edge of a time of transition—even without the thriller trappings, after senior year their lives will never be the same.

Pettijohn also captures, with wit and specificity, the cultural moment of Napster, Xanax, MySpace, and the Columbine shootings while finding pathos in the friends’ upbringings and expectations. This blend of sharp-elbowed nostalgia (including a paean to Fuddruckers), boisterous humor, sociocultural realism, and crime story is potent, as Pettijohn explores the underlying themes of friendship, community, youthful recklessness as these four edge toward something scarier than gangsters: adulthood.

Takeaway: Sharply funny story of high schoolers whose pranks pit them against the crime world.

Comparable Titles: T. Geronimo Johnson’s Welcome to Braggsville, Amelia Kahaney’s All the Best Liars

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-