Tyler Hamilton is 16 years old and has lived with only his parents since he was about 12. He has 4 older siblings who are all in college now, but 3 of them went to boarding school before so it has been him alone for many years. His older brothers, Jimmy, Jasper, and Harry all went to Andover but his older sister Laci went to Greenwich Academy. The Hamilton family is from Greenwich, Connecticut but originally lived in Woodside, California. Tyler’s dad, Bryan, is an investment banker for Goldman Sachs in New York City. Tyler’s mom, Audrey, mostly just stays home with Tyler; they are best friends. Bryan and Audrey have been together for 26 years, but things aren’t always good for them. Audrey has a disease, a very selfish disease. Audrey is anorexic.
Tyler has gone to St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, Connecticut for 5 years and loves it. He is the star lacrosse player at the school, on the honor roll, and is well liked by everybody. He has 7 best friends that he does everything with, but only one knows about his mom. Tyler has only told Patrick because Patrick’s older sister Christina has had serious eating disorders. Tyler really does love St. Luke’s. He was just beginning to get very bored after being there for so long.
Anorexia is a disease that takes over your life and the life of everybody you love. Beyond the physical issues that take place while having this disease, the victim will become very selfish and secretive. They make it very hard for people around them to help because they don’t think they need help. Audrey and Tyler have a very close relationship, so Tyler has always felt quite responsible for his mom and her problems. Even though the family has tried multiple clinics and therapists, this is a disease that is not going to go away.
At the end of Tyler’s sophomore year at St. Luke’s, things started to get bad at home. His dad was always out working, and his mom was starting to look like a skeleton. Laci, being the oldest, has always been the one in charge when Audrey was incapable, so Tyler approached Laci very frightened. After 3 hours on the phone, Laci had convinced Tyler it was time to get out of that house and go off to a boarding school. They both did not know how they were going to tell their mom this, but they got the whole family together during the summer and talked about how unfair it was for Tyler to be in that position. His mom was heartbroken. She believed she had done something. But Bryan decided to take this seriously after Laci alone had specifically talked to him about the situation, and he agreed. Starting in October, they would begin on the boarding school search.
Tyler woke up on October 12, put on his slacks, pink button down shirt, blue and green vineyard vines tie, and his blue blazer. Bryan, Audrey and Tyler were going to visit Andover and Lawrenceville that day. A week later, the three of them visited Taft and Loomis Chaffee, then their last visit was to Deerfield. Each school had a different feel. Lawrenceville and Loomis Chaffee seemed a bit too artsy for him, Andover was too much like his brothers, Deerfield and Taft were very perfect for him, but Taft really stuck out in his mind after visiting each school. He ended up applying to Deerfield, Taft, and Andover as his backup because he knew he could get in with his legacy. For his application essays, he wrote about his family life and the relationship he wish he had with his father compared to how close he is with his sick mother.
On March 10th, Tyler got the letters saying he had been accepted at Taft, Andover and waitlisted at Deerfield. Without question, Tyler knew he wanted to go to Taft, and that is where he was going to spend the next few years of his high school career. The rest of the school year at St. Luke’s wasn’t too exciting, but his summer really was a hard one.
The Hamiltons owned a house in Nantucket and spent a month and a half there each summer together. They had a sailboat that the boys loved to sail for up to a week at a time. Every night and morning, Bryan and Audrey fought. It got to the point where they wouldn’t talk or interact with one another. All this fighting really started to tear the kids apart and they even agreed they would rather them just get divorced then be unhappy like this. But Bryan couldn’t because he was scared about Audrey dying without him there to help her, especially since Tyler was leaving. After a long few months in Nantucket, the Hamilton’s went back to their regular lives at different schools.
September 7th, Tyler arrived at Taft and pulled up at his new dorm, Peak. Tyler would be living with a roommate named Ben and a dorm filled with 45 boys. Peak was the nicest boy’s dorm on campus with a bathroom at the end of each hallway, a fireplace and T.V in the common room, built in closets, and full-sized beds in each room. Tyler was well liked by all the girls on campus with his blonde hair and bright green eyes, and the boys seemed to like him on the sports field but didn’t love the attention he got from girls.
A few days after class started at Taft, he got a call from Laci. His mom had moved out of their home because Bryan forced her into a home for eating disorders. Tyler didn’t know what to do; he thought that if he went home and dropped out of school things would get better again. Laci repeatedly told him that it was not his responsibility. She just needed to tell him so he knew what was going on. Tyler could not focus on any school work and got calls from his mom every couple days complaining about where she was. Bryan did not think it was fair for her to complain to Tyler like this because Tyler had more important things to worry about. Tyler’s grades started to fall. He loved the school and talked to the counselor there every week. Until suddenly he got a call saying his mother had died.
Everything in the Hamilton’s life stopped. Every child left school for about a month except Tyler. It took Tyler 4 months. Taft told him it was okay, and he would still have his spot when he was ready to come back; he just couldn’t find the strength to do it. After those months of therapy and spending time with family he decided it was time to get back to school.
Every morning Tyler woke up, he looked at the picture of his family on his bedside table, showered, put on his blazer and backpack, and walked to the dining hall for breakfast. Taft was Tyler’s home; he was the varsity lacrosse captain as a junior and loved everything about the school. All of the kids there loved him; he walked into a room and ended up surrounded by girls and boys smiling at him looking for high fives. Beyond the students loving him, all of his teachers admired his willingness to do work. He was very studious and was the vice president of student government. Everything seemed to be going great in Tyler’s life but he just wanted his mom. Audrey was his best friend, and he had cared about her more than he had cared for anybody else. Every holiday he spent with his family felt weird without her there.
When Tyler wrote his college essays, he wrote about how much Taft had helped him grow as a person and move on from losing his mother. Without going to that boarding school and having all that support, he didn’t believe he could’ve ever accomplished being the schools president and being an All-American lacrosse player. All of Tyler’s dreams came true except the pain of losing his mom will always sit inside him, eating him up because he blames himself.