In Andrefski’s (The Girlfriend Request, 2016, etc.) novel, a bullied teen at an elite private school plots revenge against her tormentors during recruitment week for a secret society.
The last day of school at Trinity Junior Academy is a day of celebration for Samantha Evans. She’s excited about beginning high school in the fall with her best friends, Jessica and Jeremy. That same day, though, everything changes when her father is arrested for insider trading. Compounding the shock is the discovery that he’s having an affair with Jessica’s mother. Eventually, her father is convicted and both couples divorce. Samantha is sent to live with her Aunt Loretta and attends high school at Trinity Academy, where Jessica begins tormenting her. When Samantha discovers graffiti mocking her father’s imprisonment, she feels that the time has come to exact revenge on Jessica and her friends, and the selection process for the school’s secretive Musterian Society provides the perfect opportunity. After Samantha hacks into the society’s website, she sends invitations to three unsuspecting classmates along with details of various tasks they’ll need to complete during Rush Week. Her plan seems foolproof until the pranks take a dangerous turn and she wonders if her desire for vengeance is worth risking her classmates’ safety or her friendship with Jeremy. Andrefski’s exploration of the ramifications of bullying is compelling and includes a well-developed storyline with a strong heroine. Samantha is an intelligent student who balances her school responsibilities with serious family turmoil, including her aunt’s dementia; she also attempts to reconcile with Jessica to no avail and faces daily reminders of her father’s crimes and affair. The scenes of bullying are brief but effectively convey Samantha’s emotional trauma and establish her motivation for revenge. Her scheme unfolds like an intricately plotted thriller, with the pace quickening as her plans start to unravel. Andrefski also skillfully weaves several effective subplots into the main narrative, including Samantha’s relationship with a mysterious older teen named Ransom.
A thoughtful, sensitively drawn examination of bullying, revenge, and personal responsibility.