Debate is Tanner’s talent, but is he good enough to succeed at his new school?
If Tanner does well at Bannerman Prep, he has a good chance at getting a scholarship to an elite college. It’s just his luck to land Andrew Tate, or “the Duke,” as everyone calls him, as a debate partner. The Duke does very little in the way of preparation, leaving all the work to Tanner, so Tanner is surprised when they actually perform really well together. The two white teens start to spend more and more time together, along with the rest of the members of the debate team, a couple of whom are described as people of color. But there’s a price to this life, and Tanner, with worries about his overworked mom and disabled younger brother, can’t afford that price. In her debut novel, Nelson offers a contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby that goes beyond many of the themes of the original novel to make for a spirited look at what happens when a good kid makes some bad choices in a place where consequences don’t always follow. The private school setting is written with an authentic mix of charm and weirdness, although the characters are perhaps overly iconic in their wealthy kid/poor kid roles.
A satisfying examination of morality and the decisions that change our lives. (Fiction. 14-18)