A young woman new to a prestigious boarding school is sexually assaulted by a wealthy, powerful upperclassman.
Fifteen-year-old Sam is excited, if apprehensive, to be attending Edwards Academy. Her middle-class background feels a world away from the extreme affluence of her new classmates, and she’s relieved to find a good friend in her roommate, Gracie, whose goofy humor and incisive outlook about the school’s culture provide much-needed support. From this premise, an explosive, harrowing tale is spun about a school climate that encourages both students and faculty to turn a blind eye to illegal happenings including smoking, hazing rituals, and rape. The novel is told in three acts and weaves together three separate voices: a secret blog, Sam’s first-person account, and the third-person narrative of Harper, a reporter Sam eventually contacts in the hope she will expose the secrets at Edwards. The tone and plotting of this contemporary novel runs distinctively toward the thriller form, complete with courtroom drama and a surprise twist. While engrossing, these dramatic elements detract somewhat from the characters and the emotional gravity of the all-too-realistic injustices they face. Sam is white; Gracie’s last name, Caleza, suggests a Latina background and she is described as having “topaz”-colored skin; Harper is black.
A provocative and mostly compelling look at rape culture and the privilege that protects it. (Thriller. 14-18)