Grosse Pointe Woods author finds ‘Closure’ in new book

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 4, 2020

 Jon Kesman

Jon Kesman

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Jon Kesman remembers the days of growing up in Grosse Pointe Woods in the 1980s, riding mopeds with friends, shooting baskets at the local park and dealing with teen angst.

The first-time author relives those days in his new book, “Closure,” a coming-of-age tale that takes readers on a nostalgic journey to the ’80s and ’90s. Humor, solid friendships and struggles with teenage insecurities help set the tone.

“It’s a fictional story that I borrowed from elements of my life,” Kesman, 47, said. “It’s heavily embellished in a lot of ways.”

“Closure” tells the story of main character Ian Cooper, who was born in England and moved to the U.S. when he was 5. The family settles in the Grosse Pointe area.

“That’s sort of when the story begins,” said Kesman, now a Rochester Hills resident. “His best friend, Dave Sammartino, is modeled after my best friend in life.”

Blessed with height, Cooper becomes a skilled basketball player and spends his days learning the three R’s at Grosse Pointe North High School, perfecting his basketball game, and grooving to the sounds of the Cure and the Smiths. About halfway through the book, conflict arises for Cooper when his family relocates to Chicago because of his dad’s job.

“He has to start over and there’s some turmoil that comes from the situation,” Kesman said, adding that during Cooper’s senior year, the family has moved back to the Grosse Pointes. Some of Cooper’s anxiety resurfaces back in Grosse Pointe because of character Isabelle Tremblay.

“She moves into Grosse Pointe in her junior year,” Kesman said. “The book is largely based on what happens over the course of that relationship.”

There’s innocent flirting, and one problem is that Cooper isn’t sure if he should ask her out while she’s wondering, “Is he going to ask me out?”

“Closure” will certainly feel familiar to North students, past and present. Kesman is a 1990 North graduate who pulled from his high school days to help tell Cooper’s story. He even incorporated a couple of fictional teachers from his high school days into the book: basketball coach Jarrad and French teacher Mr. Reeter.

“Anyone that took French at that time will know who that is modeled after,” Kesman said.

Kesman said Grosse Pointe Woods author Tom Nixon was very encouraging as he wrote the book. When reading the preliminary draft of “Closure,” Nixon found he could relate to the story.

“It’s nostalgic for somebody in their 40s who grew up in Grosse Pointe,” Nixon said. “So much of the story kind of resonates with my own coming of age. I did play basketball, and while I didn’t go to North, most of my friends did. I could totally relate to the high school athletics and how it became a big part of your identity.

“I felt like I was reading Jon’s autobiography,” Nixon said. “It’s super-relatable, especially if you’ve grown up in that era in any Midwestern city.”

“It’s just a fun read. I want (readers) to get vested in the characters and maybe see a correlation between teachers and friends they knew,” said Kesman, who attended St. Joan of Arc Catholic School grade school and middle school. “It takes you back to a place and time when you dealt with some of these things. It’s a walk down memory lane for those that were part of that time.”

Kesman’s wife, Debbie, and daughters Madison, 15, and Lindsay, 13, have been supportive of the book.

“They always encouraged me to work on it,” Kesman said. “This has been a 10-year process. Now it’s done, (and) they’re really excited.”

“Closure” is available at amazon.com.