A group of teens alternate narration of this irreverent historical drama set at a Quaker boarding school in England.
When her older brother, Tom, enrolls at a British university to evade the draft that is conscripting so many young American men—including his best friend, Matt—into service in Vietnam, Jenny winds up making the trip across the Atlantic as well. Somewhat uncomfortable in her own skin, she lies that Matt is her boyfriend, but she’s far from the only one who projects an altered image to those around her. Jocelyn employs the points of view of a host of Jenny’s peers in formats that include imagined film scripts and letters written to a former student and feature embarrassing secrets, plenty of sexual misadventure, and true-to-life and funny boarding school dynamics. In doing this, she effectively brings readers into the respective corners of her characters—even those who at first glance seem unlikable. There are also those who are intensely sympathetic, including Brenda, a smart and honest working-class girl on scholarship, and Robbie and Luke, who find each other and stick it out despite horrific gay bashing. These are textured, smart characters, and it’s likely that readers will find themselves wishing for more from many of them—the only detraction of the slice-of-life style on offer here.
Poignant and often witty, this novel treats its audience to a nuanced look at the era. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)