All the Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers is a Socratic dialogue about the social contract, the unwritten rules that determine our behavior, wrapped around the barest of plots.
I’m not a big fan of philosophy and I love a good plot, so this one didn’t do it for me.
In the aftermath of the death of his estranged father, Paul begins a summer job working in a soup kitchen. Elijah, the proprietor, quickly begins to teach Paul about more than chopping onions. They get into deep discussions about the social contract, the roles we play and why we do what we do. The debate becomes real as Paul mentors a young teenage mother who sees basketball as her only hope and is being recruited by a local gangster who doesn’t abide by the social contract.
In some ways it reminds me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, with the philosophic conversation broken up by manual labor (in this case, preparing soup).
In the end it’s just a conversation. It’s all discussion and little action.
But I want a story that actually tells a story.