This is a classic coming-of-age novel. The main character, John Perry, is the son of a Methodist minister. Soon after his family moves to a new town, John strikes up a friendship with Milton Silverstein and Zona Cahill. Zona is flirtatious and worldly; Milton is Jewish. John’s father does not approve of his new friends. Still, the friendships continue even after the trio goes off to college. John intends to return to his small hometown one day to edit his local newspaper, but first he has to find his own way, struggling to break free of religious orthodoxy and develop his own opinions. The college the friends attend is called Trumbull University, but is is easily recognizable as Duke. The mountain town which the friends leave and then return to is called Macon, but a contemporary reviewer thought it was actually Franklin, in Macon County.
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.