Thesis (M.F.A., English) -- University of Idaho, 2016 | On the South Side of Gangsta’s Paradise is about the end of innocence. It follows Michael Brewer, a young man falling for his first love while struggling to find his position in a world that grows increasingly surreal. He comes of age during the Iraq War and the Time of Shedding and Cold Rocks, a time of growing disillusionment and spreading upheaval. For Michael and America, a comfortable era of success is nearing collapse. Michael, an intelligent, big-hearted boy, is molded by the challenges—social, academic, athletic, and spiritual—of the final years of high school and grows into a brash young man, only to find the road growing even steeper. The lure of escape grows, and he sets out to make college the “best four years” of his life, like there’s no tomorrow, because he can’t imagine one. The slope is slippery, and he ends up falling into the opiate epidemic just beginning to ravage the country. He comes to believe in only one thing: that he loves a girl, Lucy.